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Hernandez dominates as Rays beat Diamondbacks

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Wil Myers must be thinking this is easy -- or least fun.

The Tampa Bay Rays improved to 28-9 since the rookie outfielder was called up on June 18 with a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.

"It's been a lot of fun," said Myers, who contributed a fine running catch, two walks and a single that extended his hitting streak to 11 games. "We're doing everything we need to do. We're pitching well, we're hitting well, we're getting timely hits, and our bullpen's coming in and shutting the door."

The bullpen wasn't needed Tuesday night. Roberto Hernandez came within one out of a shutout, and Yunel Escobar and Ben Zobrist drove in two runs each for the Rays, who have won 21 of 25 games this month.

Hernandez (6-11) opened the game by hitting Gerardo Parra with a pitch and giving up a single to Aaron Hill. He then retired 22 of the next 25 batters he faced before Parra singled leading off the ninth. Eric Chavez ended Hernandez's shutout bid with a two-out home run off the right-field foul pole.

Chavez's ninth home run was one of only five hits off Hernandez, who struck out six and walked one in his first complete game of the season. It was the seventh complete game thrown by the Rays this month, the most by any team in a calendar month since the Philadelphia Phillies had seven in 1999.

"The only trouble he had was the two-out homer in the ninth inning," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "Otherwise he was pretty clean."

The veteran right-hander is the closest the Rays have had to a hard-luck pitcher during their charge to the top of the AL East. He is 2-5 in his last eight starts.

"Today I controlled, threw strikes, kept the ball down, made a lot of ground balls," Hernandez said. "Whenever I go to the mound, I never think about what happened (previously). I think about today."

And that's the way it's been almost every day since Myers arrived.

"They've thrown the ball well for a month now," said Myers, who is hitting .331. "We feel like we're going to be in every single game, which gives us a lot of confidence to play."

Zobrist and James Loney drove in runs in the first inning off Arizona starter Ian Kennedy, and Escobar made it 3-0 with his eighth home run in the fourth inning.

Making his 10th straight unsuccessful attempt for his 50th career wins, Kennedy gave up six hits and three runs while striking out seven in five innings. He has not won since June 1.

"A lot of balls were elevated. ... These guys are very aggressive when you get behind them, and they stung us on them," said Arizona manager Kirk Gibson. "He's got to pitch better."

Hill had two of Arizona's four hits, but was doubled up after each of them.

With one game left in July, the Rays' current 21-4 record ranks as the best July since the 1941 New York Yankees went 25-4 in the month Joe Dimaggio's 56-game hitting streak ended.

Notes

  • The game was delayed 20 minutes in the second inning when some lights went out as a result of a lightning strike at a nearby power substation.
  • Rays RHP Alex Cobb threw 50 pitches in a simulated game Tuesday and is scheduled to pitch three innings Saturday for Port Charlotte of the Class-A Florida State League in a rehab start. Cobb has not pitched for the Rays since sustaining a concussion when he was hit by a line drive on June 15.
  • Hill is 19-for-44 (.442) in his last 12 interleague games.
 
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Roberto Hernandez strikes out six, walks one and comes within an out of a complete-game shutout. (USATSI)
Roberto Hernandez strikes out six, walks one and comes within an out of a complete-game shutout. (USATSI)

Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

B. Zobrist
AB 4
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 2
Tampa Bay

R. Hernandez
IP 9.0
H 5
ER 2
BB 1
K 6
 
Arizona Diamondbacks
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Gerardo Parra, RF3110001 .270
Aaron Hill, 2B4020002 .279
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B4000014 .300
Eric Chavez, DH3112101 .300
Martin Prado, 3B4000001 .261
Jason Kubel, LF3000010 .231
Wil Nieves, C3000010 .359
Adam Eaton, CF3000020 .192
Cliff Pennington, SS3010010 .247
Totals3025216  
Batting
HR - Eric Chavez (8, R. Hernandez)
RBI - Eric Chavez 2 (34)
2-OUT RBI - Eric Chavez 2 (14)
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
DP - Hill-Pennington-Goldschmidt
Arizona Diamondbacks
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Ian Kennedy (L,3-8) 5633371 5.23
Will Harris 1111210 2.20
Tony Sipp 1000210 4.06
Chaz Roe 1311020 5.79
WP - Ian Kennedy (9), Will Harris (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Ian Kennedy 97-59, Will Harris 26-13, Tony Sipp 19-8, Chaz Roe 18-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ian Kennedy 4-4, Tony Sipp 1-0, Chaz Roe 1-0
Batters Faced - Ian Kennedy 24, Will Harris 6, Tony Sipp 4, Chaz Roe 6
Tampa Bay Rays
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Desmond Jennings, CF4110122 .261
Ben Zobrist, 2B4032102 .273
Evan Longoria, 3B5100026 .275
James Loney, 1B5011033 .316
Wil Myers, RF2010211 .331
Luke Scott, DH3000114 .256
Matt Joyce, LF3100111 .239
Jose Molina, C4120010 .245
Yunel Escobar, SS2122100 .255
Totals325105711  
Batting
2B - Desmond Jennings (24, Kennedy), Ben Zobrist 2 (25, Kennedy), James Loney (23, Kennedy)
HR - Yunel Escobar (8, Kennedy)
SF - Yunel Escobar (4)
RBI - Ben Zobrist 2 (51), James Loney (51), Yunel Escobar 2 (42)
2-OUT RBI - Yunel Escobar (16)
Team LOB - 11
Fielding
DP - Zobrist-Escobar-Loney, Zobrist-Escobar-Loney-Zobrist-Escobar-Loney
Tampa Bay Rays
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Roberto Hernandez (W,6-11) 9522161 4.71
HBP - Parra (by Roberto Hernandez)
Pitches-Strikes - Roberto Hernandez 102-70
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Roberto Hernandez 13-6
Batters Faced - Roberto Hernandez 32
Game Information
Attendance - 17402
Game Time - 2:34
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Ron Kulpa, First Base - Tom Hallion, Second Base - Phil Cuzzi, Third Base - Chris Guccione