Rays beat Red Sox behind Moore but shut down Karns (w/video)

Richie Shaffer scores in the sixth inning as the throw sails over Blake Swihart, letting Mikie Mahtook come home.
Richie Shaffer scores in the sixth inning as the throw sails over Blake Swihart, letting Mikie Mahtook come home.
Published Sept. 23, 2015

BOSTON — Matt Moore made another solid start Tuesday in his return from Tommy John surgery as the Rays beat the Red Sox 5-2 and climbed back out of last place in the American League East. And Drew Smyly takes the mound tonight to further the case that he has overcome his seemingly severe shoulder issues.

But the Rays have another starting pitcher with an injury issue, as rookie Nathan Karns has been shut down for the rest of the season due to tightness in his right forearm.

Both Karns and manager Kevin Cash stressed that the tightness was "nothing major" and that at a different point in the season he could have pitched through it, but they were just being cautious.

Moore, meanwhile, overcame a ragged 32-pitch, two-run first inning to turn in a second straight strong outing, working into the seventh while allowing seven hits and two walks and striking out seven, throwing 104 pitches.

"Pretty happy about how the way the last two have went, arm strength seems to be pretty (good) consistently, so some good things to keep my head up," Moore said. "If we can stay where we're at right now and just continue to make pitches when I have to, I should be all right heading into the winter."

Moore is slated for two more starts and perhaps more than any other Ray would be well-served by a strong finish.

"For him to be able to go into the offseason knowing that he's back, that he feels really good, that will be a big boost for him going into the offseason and carrying that into next year," Cash said.

After being set down in order through the first four innings by Sox rookie Henry Owens, who got 12 outs on 38 pitches, the Rays rallied to improve to 73-78. Logan Forsythe scored after doubling for their first hit to lead off the fifth, and rookie Mikie Mahtook had the biggest blow, a two-run homer in the eighth.

Karns, who was expected to make a start this weekend in Toronto, said the forearm became tight when he made his first, and only, relief appearance Sept. 8 in Detroit after being bumped from the rotation to make room for Moore.

"I never thought it was to the extent where it was going to be something very major, it was just something that was discomforting, a little tight," Karns said. "But it's improved from that point on. It's just to a point where we don't feel that it would be wise to go out there and do what I need to do with not being 100 percent."

The Rays made the decision after watching Karns throw a "really good" 20-pitch live batting practice session early Tuesday afternoon. "We made the best judgment for him going forward that it doesn't make much sense just to try to squeeze six innings in, let's just go ahead and shut him down on a good note," Cash said.

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Karns said he didn't know if the different warmup routine in coming out of the bullpen or the extended time since his last start on Aug. 30 led to the injury. "I really have no idea, it could be a million different things," he said.

Karns, who wasn't expected to make the team until Alex Cobb, Alex Colome and Smyly were sidelined during spring training, finished his impressive season 7-5 with a 3.67 ERA. He said he did well enough Tuesday that he won't have any lingering concerns this offseason.