CINCINNATI (AP) — The starter throws seven shutout innings. The defense makes a few big plays. One swing of the bat provides all the offense needed.
Not a very flashy way to win, but it's working for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Alex Cobb went seven innings on Saturday, extending Tampa Bay's run of solid starting pitching, and James Loney homered for a 1-0 victory over the slumping Cincinnati Reds.
The Rays came into the interleague series with a 1-8 mark against Cincinnati. They've taken the first two games with their simple formula.
"We hit some balls well, they hit some balls well, their defense played great also," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "So just one of those days, man. We hit a homer and we win."
Cobb (1-1) pitched seven shutout inning against Texas on Sunday but got a no-decision. He kept the scoreless streak going Saturday, limiting Cincinnati's struggling lineup to four hits without walking a batter. He's now gone 15 1-3 innings without allowing a run.
Grant Balfour, who fanned Brayan Pena with the bases loaded to end Friday night's game, got three outs for his fourth save in as many chances, finishing off the four-hitter.
Cincinnati stranded a pair at third base and had runners thrown out at third and home, extending its run of wasteful offense.
The Reds have lost all four of their series this season, falling to 3-8 for the first time since 1995, when they won the NL Central. They had a brief team meeting after the game.
"It was just a friendly reminder of what we've got here and who we are as a team," Pena said. "It was a very positive meeting. The skipper (Bryan Price) got involved."
Loney led off the second inning with his first homer against Alfredo Simon (1-1), who matched his career high with eight innings and allowed only five hits.
The Rays opened the series with a 2-1 win Friday night, when David Price took a shutout into the ninth before Joey Votto homered with one out. Rays starters have thrown at least seven shutout innings four times in the last six games.
It was Tampa Bay's second shutout of the season, and the second time the Reds have been shut out. The Reds also were blanked 1-0 by the Cardinals on opening day.
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