ST. PETERSBURG — The fans inside Tropicana Field on Saturday night stood and cheered as Yonder Alonso stepped to the plate in the top of the ninth. The ovation was for Rays pitcher Matt Andriese, who was one out away from finishing the best start of his pro career.
"I'm kind of at a loss of words, that feeling I had on the mound there in the ninth," Andriese said.
Alonso worked the count even at 2-and-2, fouled off a pitch, then swung and missed for strike three.
Andriese, making only his second start of the season since joining the club last week, turned in the first complete-game shutout of the year by a Rays pitcher.
He allowed two hits and hit a batter in a 6-0 win against the A's in front of an announced 28,158 at the Trop.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Rays (16-18) and gave the overworked bullpen a much-needed night off.
It also earned a postgame, onfield Gatorade bath for Andriese, who was later doused with beer in the clubhouse.
"Felt pretty good," he said.
After two starts, Andriese is tied with Chris Archer for wins among the team's starters.
When you add Blake Snell and Erasmo Ramirez, the team's fifth starters are 3-0 in four starts this season. The other four members of the rotation have four wins in 30 starts.
Andriese, 26, was called up from Triple-A Durham early on the last road trip when the Rays expanded the rotation to five starters. He made his first start of the season May 8 in Anaheim and pitched a career-high seven innings in a 3-1 win over the Angels on Mother's Day.
Andriese, who never pitched more than eight innings during his minor-league career, breezed through the A's lineup. He retired eight straight to start the game.
"He was going out there and taking care of business," shortstop Brad Miller said.
It was Miller's two-run homer in the third inning that provided all the runs Andriese would need.
Manager Kevin Cash said in spring training that Andriese looked like a pitcher who felt he belonged in the big leagues. What Andriese has done in his first two starts has done nothing to change Cash's thinking.
"The overall commitment to throwing strikes, he's got really good stuff, and his stuff has improved from where it was last year," Cash said. "He's throwing a tick harder. … The way he attacks, he's just a little bit of a different pitcher in a positive way."
Andriese said he approached his first two starts as if he were pitching for a spot in the rotation.
"When I got called up, my last start, I kind of told myself I want to be here for good," Andriese said, "so I kind of was taking that mentality and kind of built off that each outing."