ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Kansas City Royals scored four runs in the fifth inning against Tampa Bay Rays starter Matt Moore, whose June swoon continued as Kansas City beat Tampa Bay 7-2 on Friday night at Tropicana Field.
Moore, who began the season 8-0 with a 2.18 ERA, has lost all three of his starts this month and has given up 19 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings, including five runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Royals. His third straight defeat raised the Rays' starters' ERA over the last six games to 9.29, and Tampa Bay has dropped five of those six games.
Meanwhile, the Royals continue to get solid production out of their starting rotation. Friday's contribution came from Luis Mendoza, who permitted two runs in the first inning but no more before leaving in the seventh. Kansas City's starters own a 1.82 ERA over their last 13 games, and the Royals have gone 10-3 during that stretch, pulling to within one game of .500 with Friday's win.
After falling behind in the first inning, Mendoza (2-3, 4.08 ERA) cruised into the seventh. All he needed was a little run support to pick up his first win since May 13, and he got it in the fifth inning as Moore (8-3, 4.12) continued to struggle.
Jeff Francoeur led off the fifth with a single and scored on a triple to left by Elliot Johnson, a former Ray. Alcides Escobar continued the rally with an RBI single, moved to second on a double by Eric Hosmer and scored on a single by Salvador Perez. Hosmer came around to score on Billy Butler's sacrifice fly to center field, and Moore went on to walk Lorenzo Cain before striking out Miguel Tejada to finally get out of the inning.
The Royals padded their lead in the ninth, scoring two runs against Rays closer Fernando Rodney on run-scoring hits from Perez and Butler, who combined to drive in five of Kansas City's seven runs.
Moore got himself into trouble right away, as he hit Royals leadoff man Alex Gordon and walked Hosmer to put two on with nobody out in the first inning. He gave up a one-out single to Butler, giving Kansas City an early 1-0 lead.
But Tampa Bay's defense helped pick up Moore, turning a 1-4-2 double play to end the inning with no further damage. Moore picked up a weakly hit ball off the bat of Cain and fired to Ben Zobrist at second base for the force out, then Zobrist threw home to catcher Jose Lobaton, who tagged out Hosmer to escape the jam.
The Rays capitalized on that break. Matt Joyce led off the bottom of the first with a solo home run to right field off Mendoza to tie the game. Zobrist then walked, and Evan Longoria crushed an RBI double to deep left field to give the Rays a 2-1 lead. But Moore didn't make it stand up for long.
NOTES: Longoria started his second straight game at DH on Friday and admitted he has plantar fasciitis, which has been "pretty painful" for the past two weeks. Longoria, who has started every game this year (including 61 of 67 at third base), said the issue doesn't bother him enough to sit out, but he's felt it while standing up for long stretches at a time, particularly during the Rays' lengthy games against the Red Sox earlier this week. He hopes to be back at 100 percent after the Rays' day off Monday. ... Perez extended his longest hitting streak of the season to 10 games with a fifth-inning RBI single. ... Tampa Bay officially optioned RHP Jake Odorizzi to Triple-A Durham and reinstated starter Alex Cobb from the bereavement list on Friday. The team announced the move Thursday night. Cobb is scheduled to start Saturday's game. ... The Royals entered Friday night with a team 3.40 ERA, the lowest in the American League, and set a franchise record Thursday night by limiting opponents to three runs or fewer in 12 straight games. ... The Rays signed their second-round draft pick, Arizona high school SS Riley Unroe, on Friday. Unroe's father, Tim, played professionally for 11 years and spent 1999 with the Angels and their bench coach/interim manager, Rays skipper Joe Maddon. ... The Rays are donating $2,500 to the Tampa Bay Lions youth football league, whose field house was set on fire by arsonists earlier this week.