Rays beat White Sox 8-3
The Rays swarming offense was at it again Friday night, with every starter getting a hit in an 8-3 drubbing of the last-place White Sox.
The game was already in control by the five-run second inning, when Jose Molina and Kelly Johnson hit back-to-back homers, and Desmond Jennings and Luke Scott picking up the first of their three hits.
But as impressive as the Rays bats have been, manager Joe Maddon said the only way they're going to get "extremely toasty" and make up some ground in the American League East is with their starting pitching.
And after a fourth-straight strong outing by righthander Jeremy Hellickson Friday in front of 15, 825 at Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay's rotation is starting to live up to its sparkling standard.
Hellickson has won four in a row, allowing a combined four earned runs in that stretch, and tonight's starter, lefthander Matt Moore rides a three-game winning streak. Ace David Price is back, with Roberto Hernandez and Chris Archer improving, as the Rays have given up just 28 total runs the past 12 games, of which they've won nine.
"It's just getting that kind of a feel back to it," Maddon said. "The guys seem to be in good order. We are seeing more normal appearances."
Hellickson is looking like the former American League Rookie of the Year, allowing one run and six hits while striking out nine in seven innings Friday.
The Rays (47-40) gave him more than enough run support in the five-run second, in which they batted around and chased White Sox righthander Dyland Axelrod. Scott, making his first start since Sunday, started it off with a double down the rightfield line (and later added an RBI single). Two batters later, Molina hit a two-run homer to left, the first of back-to-back homers by the Rays, as Johnson followed suit with a solo shot to right.
Jennings continued to be a catalyst with his second straight, three-hit game. After Johnson’s homer, Jennings ripped his first of three singles and stole second, scoring on a single by Evan Longoria, who started at third base for the first time in a week. And touted rookie rightfielder Wil Myers capped off the rally with an RBI double to left, making it 5-0.
The Rays added a couple more in the fourth, when they loaded the bases with no outs on a Jennings single and two walks. After a James Loney strikeout, Myers delivered an RBI double and Scott an RBI single, extending the lead to 7-0.
Meanwhile, Hellickson kept the White Sox at bay, stranding a runner at second in the second and fourth. But in the fifth, Hellickson allowed a run on a one-out double by Gordon Beckham and an RBI single by rookie catcher Josh Phegley, who picked up his first big-league hit.
But Hellickson would settle in, retiring the final six hitters he faced, including an eight-pitch seventh. It was his last in an 100-pitch outing which featured no walks.