ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Alex Cobb pitched seven-plus innings of scoreless baseball and Kelly Johnson hit his first home run with the Rays, leading Tampa Bay to a 6-0 victory and second straight shutout against the Cleveland Indians on Saturday night.
Cobb (1-0) held Cleveland to four hits, and the Rays (3-2) took advantage of control problems from Indians starter Trevor Bauer, who opened the game with four straight walks. The Rays came through for a Tropicana Field crowd of 32,217 on David Price Cy Young figurine night.
Cobb looked masterful, striking out six and picking up where he left off in 2012. The right-hander went 7-1 with a 3.09 ERA in his final 11 starts last season. With the fourth and fifth pitchers in the rotation starting, the result was again a zero on the scoreboard -- Rays pitchers held the Indians (2-3) to two hits in Friday's 4-0 win, with Matt Moore throwing six shutout innings.
"We're always having our friendly competition among the starters," Cobb said. "I think every time any of us get the ball, every night we're trying to go nine. ... It's something to work on throughout the year. June, July, August, September, when you get the higher pitch counts, you can attack hitters more and get deeper into games."
For all their walks, the Rays didn't get a hit until the fourth inning, when Jose Molina singled. Then Johnson crushed a pitch over the right-field wall for his first home run. The Rays could have scored much more, having had the bases loaded four times in the first seven innings. James Loney got that elusive clutch hit in the eighth with a two-out, two-run double for the final margin, but early on, the lack of production with runners in scoring position was a source of frustration.
"It's not fun. It felt like it should have been 6-0 (instead of 1-0). You look up and they're still there," Johnson said. "It doesn't take much and you're playing from behind. But we broke it open and Cobby pitched unbelievable. Two shutouts in a row is pretty cool."
Cleveland was shut out in back-to-back games just once in 2012, against Oakland on Aug. 27-28. The Rays did it once last season (July 28-29 vs. Angels), but before that hadn't done it since May 2008.
Bauer, called up for his Indians debut in place of injured Scott Kazmir, got in trouble in the first, walking the bases loaded before facing the Rays' Evan Longoria with no outs. Longoria fouled off three two-strike pitches before taking a bases-loaded walk for a 1-0 lead.
"That's a rough way to start the game," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "His stuff is so good that when he pitches ahead, they have to respect the changeup, the breaking ball, instead of just one pitch. That was a tough first inning."
After 27 pitches and no outs, Bauer ended the damage there, getting James Loney to pop out in foul territory and then having Yunel Escobar hit a line drive to right fielder Ryan Raburn, who threw home to nail Matt Joyce at the plate for an inning-ending double play.
The Rays had another out at home in the third, this with no outs, as Desmond Jennings walked and stole second and third but was thrown out trying to score on a chopper to third. Jennings collided hard with Indians catcher Lou Marson, who held onto the ball for the out.
Marson left the game with a neck strain, forcing designated hitter Carlos Santana to move behind the plate and giving Bauer a rare pitcher's at-bat in an American League game. He struck out, and Marson said after the game that he felt fine after a collision that Francona called a "good baseball play -- a jolt."
"I'm fine. Neck's a little sore," Marson said. "He got me pretty good. It was clean, absolutely. He had nowhere to go. I had the plate blocked pretty good. My neck's a little sore, but there's no concussion."
NOTES: Reliever Matt Albers was ejected after the sixth inning after he argued a call on a tag at second base that led to a Rays run. Longoria was hit by a pitch to open the seventh, and while Rays manager Joe Maddon took exception, he said he knew that wouldn't come from Francona. ... Kazmir, who strained a muscle in his rib cage this week, was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Monday. ... Bauer was acquired by Cleveland in December in a three-team deal that sent Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati and prospects to the Diamondbacks. ... Much-heralded Rays prospect Wil Myers, acquired from the Royals in the James Shields trade, made his debut with Class AAA Durham on Friday night, going 1 for 4 with two RBI.