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Rays' Hernandez relishes first win since 2011

ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Roberto Hernandez wasn't quite at his best during Sunday's 8-1 win over the A's.

But considering his last big-league victory came 579 days ago — Sept. 20, 2011 — when he was pitching under the name Fausto Carmona, the 32-year-old veteran was all smiles after his six-inning start.

"It feels very, very, very great," Hernandez said.

And from what manager Joe Maddon saw from Hernandez (1-3), the wait for his next win shouldn't be nearly as long.

Hernandez did walk three and hit a batter, but he battled out of jams, allowing just the one run and three hits. Though Hernandez got into trouble in the middle innings due to a "mechanical glitch," Maddon said, his pitches had great movement, as evidenced by his third outing with seven strikeouts.

Hernandez's winless streak spanned only seven starts. He made just three last season for the Indians (0-3, 7.53 ERA) due to visa issues stemming from a false identity arrest in the Dominican Republic.

Hernandez, signed to a one-year, $3.25 million deal in the offseason, had pitched pretty well "without any real good luck" in four starts with Tampa Bay until Sunday, Maddon said.

"I really think that's something for him to build off of," Maddon said. "Because if he hasn't won a major-league game since 2011, I'm sure the confidence needed a booster, and that was a big booster shot right there."

GREAT SCOTT: After running the bases and hitting in onfield batting practice, DH Luke Scott (calf strain) said it was his "best day yet" and he was ready for a minor-league rehabilitation assignment. "I'm going to go in there and get on my hands and knees and beg to send me out," Scott quipped.

The Rays, however, will wait to see how Scott feels today before likely sending him out Tuesday. Scott said there is no timetable for how many games he'll need but said the key will be his timing on the fastball.

The injury has kept him out longer than he expected, he said, but he is confident the nagging issues with his legs — caused by a tight hip flexor — are behind him.

"It's been a long process," Scott said. "It's been testing of patience. But I've been disciplined in not trying to push it too much and listening to my body. It's been a little stubborn at times. But I like where I'm at."

MORE MOORE: LHP Matt Moore hopes to continue his recent roll in tonight's start against the Yankees, going for his fourth straight win.

He acknowledged that despite all the injured stars the Yankees are missing, including SS Derek Jeter, 3B Alex Rodriguez and 1B Mark Teixeira, they're "definitely going to be a battle."

"They're playing really well," Moore said. "They have a lot of key players out of their lineup, so the fact they're still playing well means they have that stuff that teams get when their big guys go down, where they just step up, kind of like the Lakers have been doing lately."

LOCKED IN: 3B Evan Longoria reached on an error and doubled to extend his on-base streak to all 18 games this season, the third-longest streak to start a season in Rays history, behind Rocco Baldelli (24 in 2003) and Jorge Cantu (20 in 2005). "For the most part, he's kept his strike zone organized," Maddon said. "And as long as he does, he'll hit the ball consistently well all year."

MAGIC MAN: Maddon invited local magician Geoff Williams to show off card tricks and illusions in the clubhouse before the game. After the Rays got a couple of breaks in a three-run first, including RF Josh Reddick dropping a fly ball, Maddon thought about their "magician of the day."

SWEEP TALK: It was the Rays' first sweep of a first-place team since Game 162 in 2011 against the Yankees, and first of three or more games against Oakland in nearly eight years (May 24-26, 2005).

Rays' Hernandez relishes first win since 2011 04/21/13 [Last modified: Sunday, April 21, 2013 11:44pm]
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