Matt Moore’s first victory in nearly two years helped the Tampa Bay Rays finish off a sweep that put a difficult stretch behind them before the All-Star break.
Now Moore takes the mound looking to help Tampa Bay solve its road woes.
The Rays try to avoid a sixth defeat in their last seven away from home Monday night against the Philadelphia Phillies, who look to win four in a row for the first time in two months.
Tampa Bay (47-47) dropped 15 of 18 before taking all three from Houston prior to the break, with Moore (1-0, 7.07 ERA) giving up three runs in five innings of a 4-3 victory in the series finale July 12.
It marked the left-hander’s first win since Sept. 29, 2013, and his third start since returning from Tommy John surgery in April 2014. Moore admittedly hasn’t been very sharp, though, and he allowed eight Astros to reach base.
The 88 pitches were the most he’s thrown since returning.
"Most of it has to do with how I’m getting into those jams and getting a pitch to salvage the inning and hang a zero," Moore said. "I’ve got to be better than making a jam I have to get out of instead of just setting the tone early in the inning and at-bat."
Moore looks to make those adjustments against the Phillies (32-62) while helping the Rays bounce back from dropping two of three at Toronto over the weekend.
Tampa suffered its eighth shutout in Sunday’s 4-0 defeat and finished with just four hits. It had a great opportunity in the third inning when Tim Beckham stood on third with one out, but he failed to tag up on a shallow fly ball and then was picked off to end the inning.
The Rays have lost nine of 11 on the road and are running into a suddenly hot Philadelphia club coming off sweeping Miami. Ryan Howard and Freddy Galvis homered before Jeff Francoeur’s two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth gave the Phillies an 8-7 win Sunday.
Philadelphia, the only team in baseball with a sub-.400 winning percentage, hasn’t won four straight since a season-best six-game run from May 13-18.
The Phillies hope their hot start to the second half rubs off on David Buchanan (0-5, 7.58). They sent Buchanan to the minors April 30 after he lost his first five outings while posting an 8.76 ERA, and he suffered a badly sprained left ankle May 16 that kept him out five weeks while pitching for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Buchanan was solid in his return to the rotation July 11, when he allowed one run in five innings of Philadelphia’s 8-5 loss to San Francisco.
‘"Sometimes when guys start getting hits you start to nibble and walk guys," said Buchanan, who walked 15 in 24 2-3 innings before being demoted. "I didn’t walk anybody and that was the biggest thing for me. It’s a good stepping stone."
The Phillies have lost 14 of Buchanan’s last 15 starts, with the right-hander going 0-8 with a 4.63 ERA in that stretch since beating Houston on Aug. 6.
Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. hasn’t played since July 5 because of a right finger injury, but he’s expected to rejoin the club prior to Tuesday’s contest.