CLEVELAND — As painful as the struggles were, causing sleepless nights and a heavy heart, Luke Scott kept his frustration inside. But when his hitless streak finally ended in Friday's 10-3 win over the Indians, Scott showed openly how he felt, the relief on his face obvious — "Exaltation," manager Joe Maddon suggested — as he crossed the plate, pointed skyward and headed to the Rays' dugout, greeted by hugs, handshakes, even a phone call from the bullpen.
After strikeouts in his first two at-bats ran his string of hitless at-bats to 41 — well within sight of the major-league record for futility — Scott ended the silence with a bang, a two-run homer to right in the fifth inning off Justin Masterson.
"Just take a 300-pound gorilla and pull it off my back," Scott said. "It's just been a lot of weight, a lot of pressure. I hope that this is the start of getting back on track."
He wasn't the only one smiling by the end of the sweltering night as the Rays improved to 44-40, restoring their hope to gather some momentum — and shed some concern — heading into next week's All-Star break.
They reached double digits in runs for the first time in three weeks and posted more than five runs in an inning for just the third time this season.
By the end of the night, Ben Zobrist also had a homer, B.J. Upton had three hits, and Jose Lobaton and Elliot Johnson each knocked in a pair of runs.
Scott's homer wasn't just a personal milestone. It expanded a 4-2 fifth-inning lead to 6-2 and sparked a six-run outburst in the inning that saved starter Alex Cobb from what might have been another tough night.
Cobb had a shaky first inning, putting the first three Indians on and making the "mental mistake" of a balk with a runner on third. But pitching coach Jim Hickey calmed him and corrected some mechanical flaws by showing him video after the first, and Cobb got through six innings for his second win in his past seven starts.
"It clicked right in," Cobb said.
Scott's hitless streak went back to June 1 and lasted through 11 more games and two at-bats Friday, plus a nearly three-week stint on the disabled list.
He broke the team record (0-for-37 by Jose Cruz in 2004) on Thursday and had matched current White Sox manager Robin Ventura for the seventh-longest hitless streak by a nonpitcher since 1900, five short of Eugenio Velez's record of 46 set in 2010 and 2011 with the Dodgers. Scott's streak was the longest to end with a home run.
"You could just imagine, 0-for-whatever that was. In the baseball world, that's not easy to live through," Maddon said. "He wore that as well as that could be worn. He was still supportive of everybody else. He still came out and did his work. He wasn't crying. He wasn't blaming everybody else."
That was part of the reason his teammates were so happy, Fernando Rodney calling from the bullpen and Maddon joking it was President Barack Obama, whom Scott once made headlines for criticizing.
"Luke's such a great guy,'' Cobb said. "Seeing everyone come up and congratulate him like that was a neat thing.''
Rodney lent a hand earlier, too.
"He brought in some Latin food, and he said, 'Hey, everybody, whoever wants to throw 100 (mph) and hit home runs, come eat this food,' " Scott said. "I was the first one in line."
Masterson joked that he should get some credit.
"I was just trying to be friendly, saw Luke Scott was struggling quite a bit, coming close to a record," he said. "So I figured, what the heck? Let's give him an opportunity to get out of it. He's a good guy. I gave him a nice pitch to hit. It's just people helping people."
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]