ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The surging Tampa Bay Rays have discovered a simple formula: It’s hard to lose when you don’t give up any runs.
Alex Cobb pitched a four-hitter for his first major league shutout and the Rays beat the Oakland Athletics 5-0 on Thursday night to pull within 2½ games of the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East.
Matt Joyce hit a two-run double in a five-run fifth inning against Tyson Ross, hastily called up from the minors to pitch in place of suspended Oakland starter Bartolo Colon.
After the big inning, it was easy for Cobb.
“All the pressure goes away,” he said. “You don’t have to be fine, you can just go ahead and attack hitters. Once I got up by five, my main thought was to go as deep as I could and make them hit fastballs.”
Cobb (8-8) struck out eight and walked two in his second career complete game, both this season. He bounced back from a poor outing against the Los Angeles Angels to win for the fourth time in five starts.