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Rays bullpen brilliant after quick hook

ST. PETERSBURG — Watching starter RHP Roberto Hernandez "teetering" through the fifth inning of another close game, Rays manager Joe Maddon decided he needed some relief.

And he got some, as four relievers combined to deliver a command performance over the final 41/3 innings, allowing only two Giants to reach base.

"The guys were fantastic," Maddon said. "The bullpen, like I've talked about earlier, they're going to be the best in the American League. I think they're getting close to that right now."

They certainly looked worthy Sunday.

• Rookie LHP Alex Torres was first in, hitting his first batter then retiring the next four, picking up the win and lowering his ERA to an MLB-reliever best 0.26 (minimum 20 innings).

• LHP Jake McGee blazed through the seventh, Maddon gushing, "That's about as well as I've seen Jake throw a baseball in a long time."

• RHP Joel Peralta allowed the only hit, a two-out double in the eighth that proved harmless in his 10th straight scoreless outing and AL-leading 28th hold.

• And RHP Fernando Rodney finished with a 1-2-3 11-pitch ninth for his 18th consecutive save, 27th overall.

"A lot of good stuff," Maddon said.

JENNINGS OUT: CF Desmond Jennings was out of the lineup for at least Sunday's game due to a sprained left middle finger that was in a metal splint, but he doesn't expect to miss extended time.

Jennings said X-rays showed no fracture, though he will be re-evaluated today by hand specialist Dr. Doug Carlan. "It doesn't feel like it would be a DL thing," Jennings said. "It doesn't feel broken."

Jennings was hurt while stealing second base during Saturday's 10th-inning winning rally, unsure if he hit the finger on the base or Giants SS Brandon Crawford. "Something hard," he said.

ESCOBAR DINGED: SS Yunel Escobar was down for a few minutes after getting cut on the leg when Giants LF Roger Kieschnick kicked at him sliding into second to disrupt a potential double play. Escobar said he was okay and had no issue with the slide.

WELCOME JUSTICE: Maddon said the pending PED-related suspensions, likely to come today, are a positive step. "Anytime we can reaffirm to the public and the industry within that we're making things better, I think that's always a good thing," he said. "I'm glad that it seems like we're approaching it head-on in an effort to move it along."

MOORE ENCOURAGED: LHP Matt Moore was encouraged after the first test of his sore left elbow, making 25-30 light throws at a distance of 60 feet Sunday, with plans to move to 75 feet today, and still eyeing a mid-August return.

"Things went well," Moore said. "Just getting the glove on my hand and throwing the ball feels good. The effort I was putting into it, it wasn't going to be one of those things where I was testing it. It was kind of just, let's let it go and see how it comes out. So for (Sunday), just a game of catch, I was very satisfied where we're at."

So, too, are team officials, as they told Moore he will accompany them on the road this week, though he said there is no set date for him to start throwing off the mound.

"That way when I am ready to get off the bump we'll have a catcher and we'll have the proper set of eyes on me so that way we can really determine what the next step is," he said.

COBB OPTIMISTIC: RHP Alex Cobb said he felt good the morning after his first extended rehab start, throwing four innings Saturday for Class A Charlotte, and feels he'll be ready to return after his second start Thursday.

MISCELLANY: The team that scored first lost all three games in the series. … With the Dodgers shuffling their rotation, it appears the Rays will see both aces this weekend: RHP Zack Greinke on Saturday and LHP Clayton Kershaw Sunday.

Rays bullpen brilliant after quick hook 08/04/13 [Last modified: Sunday, August 4, 2013 9:58pm]
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