HOUSTON -- As Tampa Bay left-hander Matt Moore continues to develop the consistency that will complement his immense talent, the process of watching him mature is as exciting as the spectacle of his dominance.
Moore tossed seven shutout innings while the Rays delivered a clinic on two-out production in their 12-0 victory over the Houston Astros Monday night at Minute Maid Park.
Before Rays third baseman Ryan Roberts cranked his second home run of the game, a solo shot with one out in the eighth inning, Tampa Bay (44-39) scored seven consecutive runs with two outs. Roberts' two-run shot off left-hander Dallas Keuchel (4-5) in the third began that stretch.
After stringing together three two-out hits in the fifth, the Rays amassed five consecutive singles with two outs in the seventh, four of which plated runs. With two outs in the eighth, Sean Rodriguez capped his first four-hit game with a two-run double off Hector Ambriz.
"That's something that if we keep doing a lot of we'll be all right," Rodriguez said of the two-out hitting. "We swung the bats well tonight. Hitting is contagious. Winning is contagious. We've been feeling pretty good all around, so hopefully everyone keeps doing what they're doing."
Moore (11-3) matched his victory total from last season by surrendering just two hits and three walks while striking out nine. This outing was his first allowing no runs while working at least five innings since pitching 5 1/3 one-hit innings April 10 against the Texas Rangers.
In his first start of the season five days earlier, Moore blanked the Cleveland Indians for six innings, allowing two hits and two walks.
"I was able to stay out of jams," Moore said. "There wasn't too many places where they were threatening. Obviously we had good (defensive) plays. Also just being on the same page with (catcher Jose) Lobaton was awesome.
"Being able to bury stuff when I needed to, having the trust back there for him to be able to block it. He was throwing his body all over the place today. He was coming out there giving me some trigger words trying to give me some things to think about to get me on track."
What had been a bugaboo for Moore -- issuing walks -- was negated by nifty plays by his infield defense.
Moore entered his 17th start leading the American League with 48 walks. He walked the second batter he faced, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve. But Jason Castro followed by grounding into an inning-ending, unassisted double play turned by Rays first baseman James Loney.
Moore walked Matt Dominguez with two outs in the second but rallied to strike out shortstop Ronny Cedeno, his third strikeout of that frame.
He induced another double play to escape a jam in the fourth, this time getting Dominguez to roll a ground ball to second baseman Ben Zobrist with runners on the corners and one out.
"Coming into the game we had a game plan to make him throw strikes," Astros manager Bo Porter said of Moore. "His walk total was pretty high. I thought early in the game we did a good job. His pitch count started to get up, and then it looked like we got a little bit impatient and started to help him out a little bit."
Keuchel also struggled with his control, but unlike Houston (30-53), the Rays capitalized.
After stranding five runners over the first and second innings, Keuchel surrendered Roberts' two-out, three-run home run in the third.
In the fifth, Keuchel walked Yunel Escobar with one out before succumbing to the bottom third of the Rays lineup.
Roberts, Lobaton and right fielder Sam Fuld stroked successive singles, with Lobaton and Fuld delivering run-scoring hits that knocked Keuchel from the game and supplied Moore an insurmountable five-run lead.
"It basically boils down to not making pitches with two outs," Keuchel said. "With that being said, I can't walk five guys and expect to come out unscathed. That's what happened tonight. Something wasn't clicking."
NOTES: Rays third baseman Evan Longoria was available for pinch-hitting duty after missing the previous two games with a re-occurrence of plantar fasciitis in his right foot. ... Myers made his second start as the designated hitter, in part to give him an extra day to adjust to the roof at Minute Maid Park. Myers has made 12 starts in right field. ... Astros right fielder Jimmy Paredes was in the starting lineup, one day after being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Paredes was scheduled to start on Sunday but was later scratched because of concerns he wouldn't arrive at the park in time for first pitch.