Rays try to get Moore untracked vs. Blue Jays

The Rays would love for 22-year-old Matt Moore to show improvement for a second start in a row. A run similar to the one that the Blue Jays' Drew Hutchison is on would do just fine.

The two youngsters square off this evening in the middle contest of a three- game series between Toronto and Tampa Bay.

A projected Rookie of the Year candidate following his brief jump to the majors last season, Moore is just 1-4 with a 5.20 earned run average through eight starts and has lost three straight outings.

The left-hander did show improvement last week, however. After getting touched for nine earned runs and seven walks over a combined nine innings of the first two setbacks of the slide, Moore gave up three runs on five hits over six innings against the Red Sox on Thursday. He struck out a season-high eight, but was hurt by two homers.

"I thought he finished really strong. That's a good game to build off of," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Moore, adding, "He definitely pitched well enough to win."

Moore faces the Blue Jays for the first time.

Hutchison, who makes his first career appearance against the Rays, won at Minnesota with six innings of one-run ball on May 12, earning his first victory since April 21. He then made it consecutive winning starts on Thursday when he held the Yankees to a run on five hits and four walks in six innings of his second career quality start.

"I thought Hutch once again kept his composure," said Blue Jays manager John Farrell after the 4-1 win. "A solid and well played game all around."

The 21-year-old righty moved to 3-1 with a 4.81 ERA in six starts.

The Blue Jays pulled to within a game of the Rays for second place in the American League East -- and three back of the first-place Orioles -- by taking last night's opener 6-2.

Yunel Escobar hit a solo homer, one of two times he crossed home plate, and Colby Rasmus logged a pair of hits and scored two runs for Toronto, which has won five of six and survived an outing from Doug Drabek in which he walked six but held the damage to only two runs over six innings.

"There were timely hits," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Yunel's home run was a big one. Colby swung the bat exceptionally well tonight."

Jeremy Hellickson took his first loss of the season, charged with five runs -- two earned -- on eight hits over 7 1/3 innings. Sean Rodriguez had an RBI and B.J. Upton was credited with a homer that was ruled to have hit one of the catwalks on the Tropicana Field roof.

As the second batter in the bottom of the first, Upton's long drive to center hit one of the crosswalks and dropped into the outfield. Upton originally stopped at second, but after an umpire review he was the awarded the remaining two bases.

"I know the rules," Upton told Tampa Bay's official website. "I kind of tossed my bat after I hit it because I figured it was an out. I came around first, I looked up and the ball just kind of disappeared and I'd been following it in the air. I knew right then that it hit the catwalk. When I got to second I knew it was a home run."

Still, the Rays lost for the fourth time in five games.

The Rays had also won their last four encounters against the Blue Jays by a 32-10 score -- all in Toronto -- and have still taken 11 of the past 15 meetings overall.