Matt Moore continues to pile up wins for the Tampa Bay Rays. One more would put him in a class by himself.
Looking to become the first pitcher in team history to win nine straight decisions, Moore tries to lead the visiting Rays to a three-game sweep of the slumping Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.
After giving up a three-run homer in the first, Moore (7-0, 2.44 ERA) allowed one hit over the next five innings Tuesday in a 5-3 win over Boston. The 23-year-old left-hander struck out eight and walked two, becoming the first Rays starter to open 7-0.
"The first inning wasn't as heartbreaking as you would think," he said. "It's one of those things where you have faith in our team and what our offense is going to do, and as long as I put up zeroes and leave their lead at three, we're going to make it interesting down the road."
On the verge of becoming the AL's first eight-game winner, Moore is 8-0 with a 2.19 ERA over nine starts dating to September. While he's issued 4.69 walks per nine innings, Moore has limited opponents to a league-low .172 average.
"It's pretty incredible. ... Matt's been wonderful, and again he's going to keep getting better. There's more within Moore," manager Joe Maddon said. "We've talked a little bit about the command issue, but he doesn't give up a lot of hits. He might walk a couple of guys, but they're not beating him up with hits. So there's kind of a balance there."
Moore allowed two runs and five hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 6-2 win at Baltimore on April 17, improving to 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA over his last four starts in the series. While he's held Nate McLouth hitless in six at-bats, Moore will need to be wary of Matt Wieters, who is 6 for 11 with two homers against him.
The Rays could certainly use another impressive showing from Moore after Saturday's starter Roberto Hernandez was pulled after two-plus innings. Relievers Cesar Ramos, Alex Torres and Josh Lueke, though, combined to allow one run the rest of the way and Tampa Bay scored six times in the ninth during a 10-6 victory.
Matt Joyce homered and hit a go-ahead two-run double, leading the Rays to their season-high third straight road victory - all of them coming in come-from-behind fashion. Tampa Bay has scored 30 runs while going 18 for 36 with runners in scoring position over that stretch.
"We believe in each other, and then you're able to do those things," Maddon said. "If you stop believing, if you don't think it can't happen, then it never will. If you think it can happen, then it shall. And that's pretty much what this group's been about."
Losers of a season-worst four straight, the Orioles' franchise-record streak of 109 straight wins when leading after seven innings was snapped. Baltimore has compiled an 8.00 ERA during its skid.
The Orioles will try to regroup behind Chris Tillman (3-1, 3.40). After winning three straight starts, the right-hander allowed one run, four hits and struck out seven over seven innings but didn't factor in the decision of Tuesday's 3-2 loss to San Diego.
Tillman is 1-4 with a 5.06 ERA over eight starts versus Tampa Bay and allowed four runs in five innings losing to Moore last month.
Tillman can't be excited about facing Evan Longoria, who's 7 for 15 with three homers against him. The slugging third baseman is batting .396 with three homers during a career best-tying 12-game hitting streak.
Baltimore's J.J. Hardy has hit safely in his last 13 games, going 18 for 50 (.360) with five homers.