|Tampa Bay (64-43) «||2||0||0||1||0||1||0||1||x||5||10||0|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Wil Myers must be thinking this is easy -- or least fun.
"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."
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.
|Roberto Hernandez strikes out six, walks one and comes within an out of a complete-game shutout. (USATSI)|
|Players of the Game|
|Gerardo Parra, RF||3||1||1||0||0||0||1||.270|
|Aaron Hill, 2B||4||0||2||0||0||0||2||.279|
|Paul Goldschmidt, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||1||4||.300|
|Eric Chavez, DH||3||1||1||2||1||0||1||.300|
|Martin Prado, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.261|
|Jason Kubel, LF||3||0||0||0||0||1||0||.231|
|Wil Nieves, C||3||0||0||0||0||1||0||.359|
|Adam Eaton, CF||3||0||0||0||0||2||0||.192|
|Cliff Pennington, SS||3||0||1||0||0||1||0||.247|
|HR - Eric Chavez (8, R. Hernandez)|
|RBI - Eric Chavez 2 (34)|
|2-OUT RBI - Eric Chavez 2 (14)|
|Team LOB - 3|
|DP - Hill-Pennington-Goldschmidt|
|Ian Kennedy (L,3-8)||5||6||3||3||3||7||1||5.23|
|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|
|Desmond Jennings, CF||4||1||1||0||1||2||2||.261|
|Ben Zobrist, 2B||4||0||3||2||1||0||2||.273|
|Evan Longoria, 3B||5||1||0||0||0||2||6||.275|
|James Loney, 1B||5||0||1||1||0||3||3||.316|
|Wil Myers, RF||2||0||1||0||2||1||1||.331|
|Luke Scott, DH||3||0||0||0||1||1||4||.256|
|Matt Joyce, LF||3||1||0||0||1||1||1||.239|
|Jose Molina, C||4||1||2||0||0||1||0||.245|
|Yunel Escobar, SS||2||1||2||2||1||0||0||.255|
|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|
|DP - Zobrist-Escobar-Loney, Zobrist-Escobar-Loney-Zobrist-Escobar-Loney|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|Roberto Hernandez (W,6-11)||9||5||2||2||1||6||1||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|
|Attendance - 17402|
|Game Time - 2:34|
|Temperature - 72|
|Umpires - Home - Ron Kulpa, First Base - Tom Hallion, Second Base - Phil Cuzzi, Third Base - Chris Guccione|