OAKLAND, Calif. — Matt Moore's biggest mistake Thursday also may have been the biggest reason he and the Rays ended up winning the game, beating the A's 7-3 for their third straight victory.
The fat fastball he threw to Jake Smolinski in the second inning turned into a three-run homer that cost the Rays the lead at the time, but it also propelled Moore to what turned out to be another impressive chapter in his mid-season resurgence.
"I think that kind of woke me up a little bit,'' Moore said. "It was early in the game, I was just trying to set the tone by throwing strikes, pounding the zone early, and Smolinski ended up getting it out of there. It kind of lights a fire up under you.''
With scouts from at least a half dozen interested teams watching, Moore continued what has been a month-plus long impressive run, working seven solid innings to improve to 6-7, 4.31.
"Matt was outstanding again,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "There's one pitch that he'd probably like to have back but other than that he was just incredible. Incredibly efficient. I like that he got through the seventh inning right there.
"Really good off-speed stuff. The fastball sets everything up and then that's where you see those guys expand on those really tough breaking balls below the zone, and the change-ups also.''
Moore wasn't the whole story, as the Rays brought their hot bats with them Colorado, rallying to tie in the fourth and take control with a four-run fifth.
Corey Dickerson led the way, knocking in three runs, with two hits and a sac fly. Tim Beckham rapped hits in his first two at-bats, tying the team record by recording eight straight going back to Monday.
"Somewhat telling - the team wins and everybody is kind of playing a part,'' Cash said.
The last time the Rays won three straight – June 12-15 – they went directly into the terrible tailspin that trashed their season, losing 24 of their next 29. Having won four of their last five to improve to 38-57 they hope to keep going that direction.
The Rays took the lead in the first on a two-out single by Dickerson and made it 2-0 in the second on a homer by Beckham, who was playing first base for the first time in his career.
Moore then made the one big mistake, following a pair of singles by allowing a three-run homer to Smolinski, Oakland's No. 8 hitter.
But Moore didn't let it get him down.
"He didn't let it faze him, he didn't carry it over,'' Cash said.
And then Moore's teammates picked him up.
They got back to even in the fourth when Dickerson led off with a homer, his 14th.
And then they got back ahead with a four-run fifth, rapping five consecutive hits off Oakland's Sonny Gray. Beckham got them started with a record-tying single, then catcher Luke Maile followed with a single. The runs started coming with a double by Logan Forsythe, a single by Brad Miller, and a single by Evan Longoria. Dickerson – on an 8-for-12 run - followed with sac fly to make it 7-3.
"It's nice to see what he's been doing lately,'' Cash said. "That's the type of hitter that we know he is. It just hasn't shown up as consistently. But it's never too late. Love the way he's swinging the bat right now.''
Kevin Jepsen, making his fourth appearance since re-signing, and Xavier Cedeno combined to work the eighth. Cash turned first to Erasmo Ramirez in the ninth with a four-run lead, but when he allowed a hit to the first Oakland batter in the ninth and then hit the second, Cash summoned All-Star Alex Colome came on to finish it.
Moore allowed only four hits, walking two and striking out six while throwing 103 pitches (69 for strikes), over the seven innings. He is 4-3, 2.68 over his last eight starts, and has worked at least six innings in nine straight.
With the Aug. 1 trade deadline looming and rumors flying, Moore, who returned last season from Tommy John elbow surgery, could have been making his last start with the Rays.
He didn't want to look at it that way.
"I kind of revert to being out of the game as long as I was and I'm just thankful at the end of the day to be back in here with these guys and to be counted on and to be healthy week to week,'' Moore said.
"The speculation this time of year, I think it's pretty normal for each club to have it, whether or not they are buyers or sellers. It's definitely new for my name to thrown into the mix.
"But at the same time my heart and my mind are in this clubhouse, and I think that's where all my focus is right now.''
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow @ TBTimes_Rays