ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Matt Moore pitched like an All-Star on the day he became one.
Moore won his 13th game this season, Luke Scott and Evan Longoria hit back-to-back homers, and the surging Tampa Bay Rays completed a four-game sweep by beating the Minnesota Twins 4-3 on Thursday.
“Truly an All-Star performance,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “This is like wrapping it all into a nice little package.”
Moore (13-3), who was added to the AL All-Star team Thursday after initially being left off, gave up three runs, three hits, two walks and had 10 strikeouts over 7 1-3 innings in winning his fifth straight start and setting a team record for victories before the All-Star break.
“It means a lot,” Moore said. “I’m ecstatic about being part of the festivities and being at the game with the best players in the game.”
Moore said the best part came after talking about his All-Star addition in Maddon’s office.
“Opened up the door and everybody was waiting there with waters and beers to celebrate,” Moore said.
Moore is taking the spot of Texas right-hander Yu Darvish, who went on the disabled list this week due to a strained trapezius muscle.
Two of the runs charged to Moore scored when reliever Alex Torres gave up a two-run single in the eighth to Joe Mauer that cut the Twins’ deficit to 4-3. Jake McGee got his first save pitching a scoreless ninth.
Scott and Longoria hit solo shots in a span of three pitches off Mike Pelfrey (4-7) as the Rays took a 3-1 lead in the sixth. Longoria, bothered recently by plantar fasciitis, stopped a career-high stretch of 14 games without an extra base hit.
Rookie Wil Myers had three hits and two RBIs for Tampa Bay, which climbed to a season-best 13 games over .500 with its eighth straight victory. The second-place Rays also improved to 10-1 during a stretch of 14 consecutive games against the Twins, Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros — teams with the three worst records in the American League.
“It’s been pretty special,” Maddon said. “It’s simple, age-tested formula. We pitched well, we caught it and got some clutch hits. There’s a lot of belief within the group.”
Pelfrey allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings. The Twins have has lost 11 of 12, including five straight.
Brian Dozier got the Twins’ first hit off Moore when he lined a double with two outs in the sixth down the left-field line that just got past the reach of Longoria at third base. Dozier then scored to tie it at 1 on Jamey Carroll’s run-scoring single.
The run ended Moore’s scoreless streak at 22 1-3 innings.
The Twins struck out six times and had only one well hit ball, a third-inning fly near the warning track in center by Aaron Hicks through five innings. The lone baserunner during the stretch came when Mauer drew a two-out walk in the fourth.
“That’s a heck of a pitching staff over there,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Moore was really good with filthy stuff and all the guys they brought out threw the ball really well, but we’ve still got to put the ball in play better than we did the last couple of days, and that really affected the outcomes of games.”
The Twins struck out 19 times in Wednesday night’s 4-3, 13-inning loss.
Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead on Myers’ broken-bat RBI single in the third.
Myers extended the lead to 4-1 with a seventh-inning run-scoring single.
The teams started the series finale just over 12 hours after Wednesday night’s 4-hour, 47-minute marathon.
A number of regulars, including Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist, Desmond Jennings and Yunel Escobar, along with Minnesota’s Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit were not in the starting lineups.
Gardenhire said Morneau was sore after playing in Wednesday night’s game, but was available off the bench.
NOTES: Rays RHP Alex Cobb, struck in the right ear by a liner hit by Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer on June 15, underwent a concussion test Wednesday and feels the results will be positive. He could throw batting practice for the first since getting hurt Sunday. … The Twins placed LHP Caleb Thielbar on the bereavement list and recalled RHP Michael Tonkin from Triple-A Rochester. It was annouced Tuesday that Thielbar would be leaving the team following the death of his grandmother.