ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays rode an unusual historic start from Alex Cobb and a four-run seventh inning to a 6-3 win over the San Diego Padres on Friday night at Tropicana Field.
Cobb struck out 13 and allowed three runs over 4 2/3 innings, becoming the first pitcher in major-league history to strike out 13 batters in fewer than five innings of work. Nonetheless, he yielded three runs and was in position to get the loss when he left in the fifth.
Tampa Bay's lineup then mounted a comeback while the bullpen kept San Diego in check.
The win pulled the Rays (17-18) within one game of .500 and halted the Padres' four-game winning streak. San Diego (16-19) has still won 11 of its last 15 games.
The Rays entered the seventh inning trailing 3-2 then batted around against a trio of Padres relievers in the seventh to pull ahead. The first five Rays who came to the plate in the inning reached safely, including second baseman Ryan Roberts, who put Tampa Bay ahead with a two-run single to left field off Padres right-hander Dale Thayer. Ben Zobrist added to the Rays' lead by knocking a two-run single off Anthony Bass just in front of Padres center fielder Will Venable.
After Cobb's short, strikeout-heavy outing, Tampa Bay's bullpen held the line. Josh Lueke retired all four batters he faced, lefty Jake McGee threw his first perfect inning since April 13 and Joel Peralta worked a scoreless eighth inning. That set up closer Fernando Rodney, who converted his fifth save of the season and struck out two in the ninth.
With Rodney's final strikeout, the Rays tied their franchise record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game, with 18.
It was an unusual start for Cobb, as he gave up two early homers and ran his pitch count too high to get deep into the game.
Cobb exited after 4 2/3 innings, breaking the Rays' streak of having their starting pitchers work at least five frames in each of their first 34 games to start the season.
Venable lined a shot off Cobb deep to right field for a homer in the first inning, and one batter later, Carlos Quentin connected on a 2-2 pitch and crushed it to left field. That gave the Padres an early 2-0 lead, and they added another run in an odd third inning.
Venable struck out to lead off the third but still reached first base on a wild pitch on the third strike. Venable then stole second when Chase Headley struck out and swiped third with Quentin, who wound up swinging at strike three, at the plate.
With two outs and Cobb facing first baseman Yonder Alonso, home-plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth called Cobb for a balk, which scored Venable. Cobb then struck out Alonso, becoming the first pitcher since 1974 to face four batters in an inning, strike out all four and still allow a run.
Tampa Bay got two runs back in the bottom of the third, scoring one on Evan Longoria's bloop single to center field and another on a wild pitch by Padres starter Edinson Volquez.
NOTES: The Padres will call up right-hander Burch Smith from Double-A San Antonio on Saturday to make his major league debut. Smith, 23, is 1-2 with a 1.15 ERA for the San Antonio Missions this season, striking out 37 with just six walks and a .155 opponents' batting average. San Diego will have to make a move on its active roster to clear a spot for Smith, who will also have to be added to the Padres' 40-man roster. ... The Rays placed right-handed reliever Brandon Gomes on the 15-day disabled list with a right lat strain and called up reliever Josh Lueke, who was 2-0 with seven saves and a 0.95 ERA in 14 games for Triple-A Durham this season. Gomes didn't know when he sustained the injury or when he'll be able to return but said it recently started to affect him every time he threw a pitch. Lueke found out about his call-up late Thursday night while playing "Call of Duty" with a Durham Bulls teammate. ... Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings was out of the starting lineup Friday with a sore groin that manager Joe Maddon described as "nothing awful." He could return Saturday. ... Tampa Bay catcher Jose Molina, who left Thursday night's game with a bruised right knee, was feeling "fine" on Friday but didn't start. ... Maddon sent San Diego manager Bud Black, a longtime friend, a bottle of wine with instructions to leave it unopened until a "Pad-Rays" World Series matchup. ... The umpiring crew for this series consists of crew chief Culbreth, Brian O'Nora, Bill Welke and Adrian Johnson, who were disciplined Friday for misapplying Rule 3.05(b) in Thursday night's Angels-Astros game.