CHICAGO -- Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon knew exactly what to look for when Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore took the mound on Saturday night.
"If you're seeing him repeat his delivery, look at the full counts," Maddon said before Moore dominated the Chicago White Sox for six innings at U.S. Cellular Field. "If he's throwing a fastball strike on a full count, heads up ... he's going to have a good night."
It only took three batters into Moore's outing for that exact scenario to unfold and he did, indeed, have a good night in the Rays' 10-4 win, their first victory in the four-game weekend series.
After walking White Sox leadoff hitter Alejandro De Aza and striking out Tyler Greene to start the game, Moore (5-0) went to a full count on Alex Rios -- the No.3 hitter. Just as Maddon said, Moore went to his fastball. Rios swung and missed for the second out and Moore then struck out Adam Dunn to end the inning.
It was just the start of a masterful performance that resulted in a fifth straight win for the 23-year old Moore, who lasted six innings, struck out nine and gave up one run.
The Rays (11-13) were led offensively by Ben Zobrist (2 for 5, home run, 2 RBI), Evan
Longoria (4 for 6, RBI, 2 runs), James Loney (3 for 5, 2 RBI) and Kelly Johnson (4 for 5, 2 RBI).
Johnson's four hits were a career high, and Longoria's four hits matched his career best. Alexei Ramirez and Conor Gillaspie each went 2 for 4 and drove in a run to lead the White Sox, who rallied briefly in the bottom of the eighth to score three runs and make it 8-4 heading into the ninth. The Rays have struggled protecting late leads recently, but Cesar Ramos slammed the door and secured Moore's fifth straight win to start the season.
In his previous start, Moore went a career-high eight innings and also struck out nine in a 5-1 win against the New York Yankees. This time, he whiffed six straight through the first two and nearly struck out the side again in the fourth -- before Adam Dunn cranked a 2-2 pitch
into the seats for Chicago's first hit and run of the game.
Gavin Floyd started for the White Sox but left with two outs in the third with a flexor muscle strain in his right elbow. His early departure forced Chicago manager Robin Ventura to call in reliever Hector Santiago, who hadn't allowed a run in 10 2/3 innings through six appearances.
That changed quickly. Santiago allowed four runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings, including Desmond Jennings' home run that made it 5-1 in the sixth. The Rays added two runs in the seventh, one in the eighth and two in the ninth to give the bullpen some insurance runs.
Floyd gave up two runs -- both on a home run by Zobrist in the first inning.
Moore, who struck out six straight hitters between the first and second innings, was fantastic. He added two more strikeouts to start the fourth, giving him eight through 3 2/3 innings, before Adam Dunn got Chicago's first hit and cut Tampa Bay's lead to 3-1 with a solo home run off a 2-and-2 fastball.
Tampa Bay increased its lead to 3-0 in the third after Floyd left with two outs and nobody on base. Longoria doubled off Santiago and Loney, who came into the game hitting .429 with runners in scoring position, drove him home with a single to left.
After Dunn's homer, the Rays gave Moore another three-run lead to work with in the fifth -- using three singles to make it 4-1 by scoring Longoria.
NOTES: White Sox infielder Jeff Keppinger was unavailable to start or come off the bench in Saturday's game against the Rays with effects of the same back spasms that scratched him from the starting lineup on Friday night. Ventura said the Sox are treating the injury and don't anticipate it becoming a long-term issue that will require a stint on the disabled list. ... Chicago outfielder Dewayne Wise was available for use off the bench Saturday after also being scratched Friday with a stiff neck. ... John Danks likely will make his next start during a minor league rehab assignment, after making his last start in extended spring training on Friday. ... Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar did more on-field work before Saturday's game but wasn't able to play with the tight hamstring that he left a game early with last Wednesday. Manager Joe Maddon said Escobar might be able to return Tuesday in Kansas City. ... The Rays might also get outfielder Luke Scott (calf strain) back on Tuesday, depending on how his Class A rehab stint goes this weekend. Scott was hit in the elbow by a pitch Friday and was removed from the game, but Maddon said it wasn't serious enough to keep him from playing Saturday. ... Rays catcher Jose Molina left Saturday's game in the fourth inning with a right thigh contusion after being hit by a pitch. The team said Molina is day to day.