St. Petersburg, FL – Roberto Hernandez tossed his eighth career complete game as the Tampa Bay Rays downed the Arizona Diamondbacks, 5-2, in the opener of a brief two-game interleague set at Tropicana Field.
Hernandez (6-11) scattered five hits and a walk while fanning six to pick up his second win in three starts.
"We have had better days he has thrown the ball better, but not with the results he wanted. Today was really, really special because of the results," said Rays catcher Jose Molina
Ben Zobrist went 3-for-4 with two RBI and Yunel Escobar had two hits, including a solo homer, and two RBI for the Rays, who improved to 23-4 over their last 27 games.
Tampa also maintained a half-game lead over Boston in the AL East.
Ian Kennedy (3-8) was tagged for three runs on six hits and three walks over five innings.
"It's been kind of consistent early on, leaving pitches up in the zone. As the game went on I started to feel pretty good and got a lot of pitches over for strikes," said Kennedy.
Eric Chavez had a two-run homer and Gerardo Parra scored a run for the D'backs, who fell 3 1/2 games behind the surging Dodgers for first place in the NL West standings.
The Rays jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Desmond Jennings doubled then scored on Zobrist's single to right. After Evan Longoria grounded into a force out at second, James Loney laced an RBI double to center to give Tampa Bay a two-run lead.
Escobar cracked a solo homer in the fourth and a sacrifice fly in the sixth to make it 4-0.
Matt Joyce walked to open the sixth before moving to third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run. Escobar followed with a fly ball to right to bring Joyce around.
The Rays tacked one more in the eighth. With two on and one out, Zobrist smacked a double to left field to push Molina across.
Chavez's two-run shot in the ninth accounted for the final margin.
The game was delayed 20 minutes in the top of the third inning after a lightning strike caused a power outage in the stadium ... Hernandez threw his first complete game since 2010 ... Longoria had his 11-game hitting streak snapped ... Rays outfielder Wil Myers extended his hitting-streak to 11 games ... Kennedy struck out seven batters ... Arizona has dropped three straight ... The Diamondbacks took two of three from the Rays the last time these teams met in 2010.