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Rays' Moore runs record to 7-0

The SportsXchange

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- If Matt Moore could solve his little first-inning problem, he would be working on a perfect season about now. Actually, he is anyway. Good thing he took the advice of a former teammate to heart.

Moore made his one early mistake and was dominant thereafter as Tampa Bay opened a three-game series with a 5-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.

The 23-year-old left-hander improved to 7-0 this season, allowing just three base runners -- and retiring 12 in a row -- after David Ortiz's three-run homer in the first inning. He gave up three earned runs, three hits and two walks in six innings while striking out eight.

"His composure has been really good," said Rays manager Joe Maddon, whose team won its sixth straight. "He's not getting frustrated, and then he's able to get to the next batter."

Moore, who has allowed seven of his 13 runs in the first inning this season, said advice from James Shields, who was traded this offseason to Kansas City, has helped shape his mentality about early struggles.

"Early runs like that," Moore said, "you kind of shake off."

Fernando Rodney picked up his seventh save as four relievers combined to hold Boston (22-17) hitless in its third straight loss.

Rays catcher Jose Molina went 3 for 3 and knocked in two runs.

The Rays (20-18) began hitting the ball hard off Red Sox starter John Lackey in the third inning but used two fluke hits to break through with a five-run fourth.

Evan Longoria and James Loney began the decisive inning with singles before Luke Scott dunked a check-swing double to left to cut the Rays' deficit to 3-1. Molina then tied the score with a two-run single to center.

"That single that scored those two runs, that was a big play," Maddon said, "again, bringing the momentum back to us."

After a Yunel Escobar single put two runners back aboard, Lester appeared set to squirm out of the inning, retiring Desmond Jennings on a flyout and inducing a two-out infield pop from Matt Joyce. But first baseman Mike Napoli struggled mightily tracking a ball against the background of the roof that plopped down just fair behind him for a two-run infield single. The Rays led 5-3.

"He seemed to lose it in the whiteness of the ceiling," Boston manager John Farrell said. "That was an odd inning to say the least: a check-swing double by Scott the other way, and then with two outs and a tie score, a popup that looks at the time seemingly harmless."

Lackey (1-4) survived the inning but didn't last the fifth, allowing five earned runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked one.

"It's frustrating for sure," Lackey said. "I made a pitch, and we didn't get an out. I couldn't hear (if Napoli or second baseman Dustin Pedroia called for the ball). I don't know what happened there."

Ortiz had walloped a chest-high fastball deep into the right-field bleachers in the first, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury, who was hit with a pitch leading off, and Pedroia, who had lined a ball off third base for a double. The home run was Ortiz's fifth of the season.

"Whoever scores first, you pretty much have the game in your favor," Ortiz said. "But it doesn't work that way. You've got to keep battling all the way to the last out."

NOTES: Moore is the first Rays pitcher to ever start a season 7-0. He is tied with the MLB lead with Washington's Jordon Zimmerman (7-1). Moore tied a club record in winning eight straight decisions. Twelve of the 13 runs allowed by Moore have come on seven home runs. ... Lackey made his 300th big-league appearance. ... Longoria was named American League Player of the Week on Monday for the period May 6-12. He has received the honor a club-record six times. He hit .464 with a .531 on-base percentage and .964 slugging percentage during the span, all of which came at Tropicana Field, with three homers, 11 RBI, five doubles and eight runs. ... Loney entered the game leading the majors in batting (.376). ... Red Sox RF Shane Victorino returned to the lineup after being removed from Sunday's game with an apparent back injury. Victorino was taken to a Boston hospital after slamming into the outfield wall chasing a fly ball. ... Molina was 0 for 13 on the current homestand and 0-for-22 overall before going 3-for-3. ... Lackey had not allowed more than three earned runs in his previous five st

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