PHOENIX — With $206.5 million ace Zack Greinke starting for the Diamondbacks, the Rays knew they would be playing Tuesday with only a slight margin for error.
And the couple of inches by which Jake Lamb's drive to leftfield off Matt Moore eluded Corey Dickerson's glove for a three-run homer made a big difference in the Rays' 5-0 loss.
"It was definitely catchable — it hit the top of the wall,'' Dickerson said. "I kind of hit the wall as I jumped up. I thought the ball was coming straight to me. It just carried a little more than I thought.''
That Moore gave up another homer to Paul Goldschmidt, a two-run shot in the sixth, hardly mattered the way Greinke shackled the Rays on his way to a 104-pitch complete game:.
They had three singles and two walks, and they didn't get a runner even to second base.
"We got beat by a really good pitcher,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He was on, changing speeds, hitting his spots. He made it very difficult. I liked the way the guys went up and continued to attack. ... We competed well. The guy was just on.''
The loss snapped the Rays' four-game winning streak, dropping them to 26-31. With a win in today's matinee, they can still split their eventful 10-game road trip.
There were a couple things for the Rays to take out of the game.
That started with the starter, as Cash said Moore was as sharp — absent the two home-run balls — as he had been all season. He worked seven innings for the first time since April, allowing the five runs on seven hits, needing just 89 pitches to get there. The side benefit was that saved the overworked, short-handed bullpen for a night.
"There was a lot to be really positive about,'' Cash said. "He was extremely efficient, that was outstanding. ... You could argue the stuff coming out of his hand and the way he attacked hitters was as good as any game that he's had. ... I thought it was a really good outing for Matt, something we can really build off.''
Moore, who had family and friends up from New Mexico to watch him pitch, found some solace but lamented the mistakes that dropped his record to 2-4 and raised his ERA to 5.56., marking the 10th time in 12 starts he didn't win.
"Tell you what,'' Moore said, "I want to start pitching a lot better than this and leave a game with a lead.''
The home run by Lamb came after an extended delay.
First, Cash got the umps to gather and agree that Brandon Drury did strike out, as opposed to a foul tip as first called. Then D'backs manager Chip Hale argued back, enough to get thrown out, and, in perhaps a bit of gamesmanship, stuck around for a while to keep Moore waiting and making a handful of warm-up tosses.
Moore, who had some issues with his landing spot on the mound, said the delay wasn't a factor.
As for the 0-1 offering Lamb drove, Moore said, "That stinks. He put a better swing on it than the pitch was.''
While the homer to Goldschmidt was deserved —- "belt high, right down the middle" — Moore was more frustrated with first walking Michael Bourn, especially since he shook off Hank Conger's fastball sign and missed with a breaking ball.
"That,'' Moore said. "was probably the biggest mistake of that inning.''
The long balls have been an issue, as Moore has now allowed 14, matching teammates Chris Archer and Drew Smyly, and a couple others, for second most in the AL.
Though the lineup was missing third baseman Evan Longoria, who took his first day off the season due to "total body soreness,'' and rightfielder Steven Souza Jr., the Rays flashed some serious leather.
Taylor Motter made a series of, well, Longoria-like plays at third. Rejuvenated Desmond Jennings made a pair of impressive catches in center. And Mikie Mahtook showed off his arm with a tremendous throw from rightfield to third base.
The play they didn't make that stood out glaringly was Dickerson's botched attempt at Lamb's ball.
Dickerson acknowledged a couple of missteps. He misjudged how far the ball would carry, he didn't put his hand out to gauge where the wall was, and he jumped into the wall rather than straight up.
"When I tried to jump my shoulder and head kind of hit the wall and it wouldn't let me go up anymore,'' he said. "I should have taken a better step on it. It is what it is.''
And as much as Greinke dominated, it was what it was.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]