Cobb outduels Simon, Rays blank Reds
Cincinnati, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Alex Cobb spun seven scoreless innings to guide the Tampa Bay Rays to a 1-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds in the middle test of a three-game set at Great American Ball Park.
Cobb (1-1) scattered four hits and fanned five to earn his first win of the season. Cobb hasn't allowed a run over his last 15 innings.
James Loney provided the game's lone run with a leadoff homer in the second inning to help the Rays win for the third time in four games.
Grant Balfour put the potential game-tying run on in the ninth, but got a game-ending double-play to nail down his fourth save of the season.
Tampa Bay has scored just nine runs over its last six games.
Alfredo Simon (1-1) was the hard-luck loser, allowing Loney's homer among five hits over eight innings. He struck out four and walked just one in the setback.
Cincinnati went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position, and is just 1-for-11 with RISP over its last two games.
"There are going to be times this year when we're clicking and our offense and might carry the pitching," said Reds shortstop Zach Cozart. "We want to get back to where we're all clicking because our pitching and defense have been really good, we just haven't given them a chance to win because we don't put up enough runs."
Loney hammered the second pitch he saw, an 85-mph splitter, deep into the bleachers in right-center field. It was his first home run of the season.
The Reds wasted a pair of scoring opportunities in the fourth. Joey Votto reached on a ground-rule double to left field. Votto got some assistance from the swirling winds which carried the ball away from left fielder David DeJesus before it bounced on the warning track and over the fence.
Brandon Phillips followed with a single up the middle. Votto attempted to score from second on the play, but was cut down at the plate with ease after Kevin Kiermaier delivered a perfect strike to catcher Ryan Hanigan.
"Kiermaier's throw today might be the star of the game. Play of the game, maybe the play of the season so far," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "He's an exceptional outfielder. He is among the best major league outfielders today and he's only played one game in the regular season."
Phillips, who moved to second on the play, was later thrown out trying to steal third and Jay Bruce struck out to end the inning.
Cincinnati botched another chance in the sixth. Cozart was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a wild pitch. After Simon bunted Cozart to third, Billy Hamilton flew out to shallow left and Votto grounded out to end the threat.
Balfour walked Votto with one out in the ninth, but got Phillips to ground into a game-ending 5-4-3 double play to seal the win.
The Rays will send lefty Cesar Ramos to mound to try to complete the three- game sweep on Sunday. The Reds will counter with southpaw Tony Cingrani ... Tampa Bay was just 1-for-5 with RISP ... Cobb threw just 87 pitches ... Votto batted second for just the ninth time in his career and the first time since Aug. 8, 2008.
04/12 16:49:32 ET