Rays 5, Royals 1

Jeremy Hellickson found success again at Tropicana Field and

helped the Tampa Bay Rays stay hot.

Hellickson pitched seven strong innings for his first home win

in three months and the Rays beat the Kansas City Royals 5-1 on

Monday night.

”I thought I was really good,” Hellickson said. ”Got ahead of

guys. Curveball was pretty good. Just threw strikes for the most

part.”

Hellickson (8-8) allowed one run and six hits in ending a

stretch of seven consecutive home winless starts, dating back to a

2-1 victory over Boston on May 16.

”It all started with the pitching,” Rays manager Joe Maddon

said. ”I think (Hellickson) set the tone. He was sharp.”

Tampa Bay was coming off an 8-2 road trip that concluded with a

four-game sweep over the Los Angeles Angels. The Rays had a 3.73

ERA before the All-Star break but have had 2.32 ERA since, lowering

their season mark to an AL-best 3.31

Tampa Bay went ahead 4-1 in the fourth on Jose Labaton’s RBI

single and a run-scoring double from Desmond Jennings off Will

Smith (4-5).

Hellickson worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in the sixth. The

right-hander appeared to have induced a double-play grounder from

Billy Butler, but second baseman Ryan Roberts throw after recording

an out at second broke through the webbing on first baseman Jeff

Keppinger’s glove and wound up behind the bag. Unfazed, Hellickson

then got an inning-ending double-play from the next batter,

Salvador Perez.

”I’m sure that glove may have Kepp’s first first baseman’s

glove,” Maddon said. ”It had the old Rawlings label on it, so it

was an old glove.”

Hellickson was the losing pitcher in his last start – despite

allowing one run over seven innings – last Wednesday against

Seattle when Felix Hernandez threw the Mariners’ first perfect

game.

”I got some runs early and it’s always nice,” Hellickson

said.

Tampa Bay reliever J.P. Howell worked a scoreless eighth to

extend his team record scoreless streak to 25 2-3 innings. Kyle

Farnsworth got the final three outs in a non-save situation.

Elliot Johnson put the Rays ahead 1-0 on a run-scoring single in

the second. Jennings hit a third-inning triple and scored on

Smith’s wild pitch as Tampa Bay took a 2-1 lead.

Smith lasted just 3 2-3 innings, giving up four runs and eight

hits. The left-hander had won his previous two starts, allowing two

runs over seven innings in games against both Baltimore and

Oakland.

”After the first inning, I was just bad,” Smith said. ”No

location, no breaking ball, which really hurt. I was falling behind

too much. I just wasn’t any good. You have those days but you hate

having them.”

Keppinger extended the Rays’ advantage to 5-1 with a

fifth-inning solo homer.

Kansas City tied it at 1-all on Alex Gordon’s RBI infield single

during the third. The Royals completed a 5-1 homestand on Sunday,

which included a three-game sweep over the AL Central-leading

Chicago White Sox this past weekend.

”We’re playing well, but it’s a tough place to play and they’re

playing very, very well,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. ”Their

starting pitching’s outstanding.”

Notes: Maddon expects 3B Evan Longoria, who has been limited to

DH since returning from a partially torn left hamstring on Aug. 7,

will play defense later this week. Longoria was rested Monday

night. … Kansas City RHP Luke Hochevar (7-11) and Tampa Bay LHP

David Price (16-4) are Tuesday night’s scheduled starters. Hochevar

is 0-2 with an 11.20 ERA in three career road starts against the

Rays. … Tampa Bay DH Luke Scott (strained right oblique) could

rejoin the team Tuesday. … Gordon had two hits in three at-bats.

He entered the game 2 for 53 at Tropicana Field.