BY: John Mamola
The Rays offense came through with six unanswered runs including four in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat the San Diego Padres and open up interleague play with a 6-3 win. The four run rally in the seventh coming on back to back two RBI singles by Ryan Roberts and Ben Zobrist; as the Rays win their third in a row for the first time since mid April.
It was an unusual start for Alex Cobb who came into the game with a 4-1 record and 3.21 ERA in interleague play. Cobb fell into trouble early with a 33 pitch first inning allowing two solo home runs to Will Venable and Carlos Quentin. The Padres added another run as Alex Cobb was called for a balk with a runner on third base. The Padres led 3-0 after their half of the third inning.
Even though Cobb faced early struggles, he finished the night setting records. Cobb finished the game after 4 2/3 innings pitched due to his pitch count reaching 117 pitches. The outing ended the Rays 34 game streak of starting pitchers going at least five innings, which was the second longest streak since 1916 (1981 Pirates hold record with 45 straight games). Even though Cobb lasted less than five innings in his start, he set a new career high with 13 strikeouts. That marks this first time in Major League Baseball history that a pitcher recorded 13 strikeouts in an outing lasting less than five innings.
The Rays offense cut the lead to 3-2 in their half of the third inning as Evan Longoria knocked in his team leading 24th RBI with a single to center making it a two run lead. Ryan Roberts scored later in the frame on a wild pitch by Padres started Edinson Volquez.
The Rays took the lead for good in the bottom of the seventh on back to back two RBI doubles by Roberts and Ben Zobrist to take a 6-3 advantage. Fernando Rodney closed out the game with a scoreless ninth inning to record his fifth save of the season. Josh Lueke saw his first action as a member of the Rays after being called up from Durham (AAA) earlier in the day. Lueke pitched a hitless 1 1/3 innings with two strikeouts.
The Rays combined for 18 strikeouts in the game which ties a team record for a nine inning game. Jake McGee is credited with the win pitching a scoreless inning of work. Former Rays pitcher Dale Thayer gets the loss for the Padres.
The Rays will look to tie their highest winning streak of the season and move back to .500 for the first time since April 7th tomorrow night as they send Jeremy Hellickson against Burch Smith for San Diego. You can catch all the action on 620 AM / 95.3 FM WDAE beginning at 5:30 with the Rays pre-game, and a 6:10pm first pitch.