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Moore winless in April, but still encouraged

Posted Apr 26, 2012 by Joey Johnston

Updated Apr 26, 2012 at 07:11 PM

ST. PETERSBURG – Shortly after the Rays had clinched a dramatic 4-3 walk-off victory against the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday afternoon at Tropicana Field, rookie LHP Matt Moore stood by his locker and smiled.

“April is over,’’ Moore said.

At least for him.

Maybe it wasn’t the kind of month expected for someone already mentioned as a favorite for American League Rookie of the Year. Moore was 0-1 with a 4.68 ERA.

But he was encouraged after taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning against the Angels. Moore was undone by Mark Trumbo’s home run to lead off the fifth, then two runs in the sixth, including an RBI double by Trumbo.

For the first time in Moore’s four starts this season, the Rays won. Brandon Allen’s pinch-hit, two-run homer in the ninth took Moore off the hook.

“I felt like the timing of all my stuff was better,’’ Moore said. “Yes, I think this was (a positive step).’’

Rays manager Joe Maddon said Moore’s stuff reminded him of 2011, when the pitcher made an instant impact by striking out 11 in his major-league debut, then winning a postseason game.

The winless April? No worries.

“If he keeps pitching like that … the Carnac thing … I can see many wins in his future,’’ Maddon said.

Rangers: Tough challenge next

Friday night, the Rays begin a three-game road series against the Texas Rangers, who have MLB’s best record (15-4). The Rangers also eliminated the Rays from the AL playoffs in 2010 and 2011.

“They’re just really good and they keep getting better,’’ Maddon said. “Last year, the way it ended (in the postseason), there were two one-run games they beat us. I think it’s two evenly matched teams. They have beaten us. Hats off to them, absolutely. But we believe we’re right there with them.’’

Rays RHP James Shields, tonight’s starter who is 5-2 lifetime against Texas, said the Rangers are dangerous.

“They’ve gotten off to a hot start, for sure,’’ Shields said. “That’s one team you just can’t take lightly. You go out there and pitch your game. If you make mistakes, they’re going to hit you.’’

Joyce swinging hot bat

Rays RF Matt Joyce (.322) was 2-for-4 with a double and RBI triple. He has hit safely in 10 of the last 12 games, batting .385 (15-for-39 during that span). He has seven extra-base hits in his last seven games.

“I feel like I’m getting more confident in the pitchers I’m facing,’’ Joyce said. “I’m learning a lot from year to year. I’m growing. Combine all those things and you’re going to have success. You’re going to be more consistent.’’

Noteworthy

The hearing to consider a bail reduction for minor-league pitcher Matt Bush, in the Charlotte County Jail facing seven charges on a March 22 DUI arrest in North Port, was postponed until Monday. Bush is being held on $1.015-million bail. … Allen hit the fourth pinch-hit, walk-off homer in Rays history. The others: Bubba Trammell (2002), Eduardo Perez (2005) and B.J. Upton (2007). … The Rays are 8-1 at home to start the season for the first time. Dating back to last year, they have won 20 of their last 23 regular-season home games. … The Rays have a 2.12 ERA over the last 10 games while lowering their overall team ERA from a season-high 6.75 to 4.25. … Angels 1B Albert Pujols broke an 0-for-21 slump with a sixth-inning single (he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double). Dating back to last season, Pujols has gone 105 at-bats without a homer. … Rays LF Desmond Jennings has a career-high eight-game hitting streak. 

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