ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alex Cobb had a successful return after being sidelined by a scary injury.
Cobb pitched five strong innings in his first big league game since being hit in the head by a batted ball two months ago and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Seattle Mariners 7-1 on Thursday night.
“I’m happy with everything that happened tonight,” Cobb said. “I learned a lot. I got to a point where I know that going forward I’ll be getting better and I can take a lot of stuff from tonight’s game.”
Cobb (7-2) ended his night by striking out Nick Frankiln on a full-count pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth. He received a standing ovation as he walked off the field.
“That was really fun to watch,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s really impressive to see him comeback from that injury that well.”
Cobb gave up one run and three hits, striking out six and walking two. He said that he never thought about his injury during the game.
“That’s probably something I’ll reflect on tonight, but there’s so much stuff you’ve got to think about leading up to every single pitch that you go through, you don’t have time to think about the what if’s and what happened,” Cobb said.
Wil Myers, who had four RBIs, drove in two with a double and Evan Longoria added a two-run homer off Joe Saunders (10-12) that put the Rays up 5-1 in the fifth.
“He’s a great guy to have back in the rotation,” Myers said of Cobb. “We’re excited to have him back.”
Cobb, activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game, sustained a concussion after being struck on the right ear by a liner hit by Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer on June 15. He was taken off the field on a stretcher and was hospitalized overnight.
“Everybody goes through troubles,” Cobb said in a prestart interview session with reporters on Wednesday. “If you let it wear you down and affect the way you think and affect the way you live, then it beat you. You got to beat the situation, and go out there and just be happy to be back.”
Yunel Escobar had a run-scoring single in the seventh for the Rays, who have won two in a row after a six-game losing streak. Alex Torres, Jamey Wright and Wesley Wright completed a five-hitter.
The decisive fifth for the Rays started when Sam Fuld lined a single that went off Saunders’ glove. After Sean Rodriguez had a bloop single to center that fell between a couple of Seattle defenders, Myers and Longoria followed with their run-scoring hits.
“I tipped it with my glove rather than my face, which is good,” Saunders said.
Cobb saw Fuld’s drive on TV in the clubhouse.
“It was a scary moment, but I’m glad he was able to get a glove up,” Cobb said.
Saunders allowed five runs and seven hits over 4 1-3 innings.
Raul Ibanez gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead in the second on his first homer since going deep twice on July 12. He has 25 homers this season.
Myers tied it at 1 with an RBI single during the third. He picked up his fourth RBI of the game on a run-scoring double during the eighth.
TIGERS 4, ROYALS 1
DETROIT — Prince Fielder homered for the first time in three weeks, hitting a two-run shot in the first inning to help the Tigers.
Andy Dirks added two doubles and two singles for the AL Central-leading Tigers, who took the opener of this five-game series with third-place Kansas City.
ANGELS 8, YANKEES 4
NEW YORK — Chris Nelson hit his first two home runs of the season, including a grand slam against his former team, to send C.J. Wilson and the Angels past the Yankees.
Josh Hamilton and rookie J.B. Shuck each had an RBI single to help the struggling Angels prevent a four-game sweep. Wilson (13-6) won his fifth consecutive decision, keeping Alfonso Soriano in the ballpark after the streaking slugger piled up four homers and 13 RBIs the previous two nights.
Soriano extended his sensational tear, going 4 for 5 with an RBI single, but the Yankees managed little else until a three-run ninth.
ATHLETICS 5, ASTROS 0
OAKLAND, Calif. — Sonny Gray struck out nine on the way to an impressive first major league victory, using Nate Freiman’s two-run homer and four RBIs to lead the Athletics to a victory over Houston that averted a three-game sweep by the lowly Astros.
The 23-year-old Gray (1-1) allowed four hits and walked one over eight innings, throwing 118 pitches in his second career start and fourth big league appearance.
BLUE JAYS 2, RED SOX 1
TORONTO — Pinch-hitter Mark DeRosa hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, Mark Buehrle pitched seven innings to win his fourth straight decision and the Blue Jays beat the Red Sox.
Buehrle (9-7) came in 0-4 with a 4.97 ERA in his previous eight starts against the Red Sox, a team he hadn’t beaten since Sept. 7, 2009, with the White Sox. The left-hander allowed one run and 10 hits, walked two and struck out four.
TWINS 4, WHITE SOX 3
MINNEAPOLIS — Chris Herrmann’s pinch-hit single in the bottom of the ninth scored pinch-runner Doug Bernier and lifted Minnesota to a victory.
CARDINALS 6, PIRATES 5
ST. LOUIS — Matt Carpenter had four hits and scored the winning run on Matt Holliday’s single in the 12th inning, helping the Cardinals to their second extra-inning triumph over the NL Central leaders in three days.
The Cardinals took two of three in the series to pull within two games of the sagging Pirates, who have dropped five of six. St. Louis won 4-3 in 14 innings in the series opener on Tuesday night.
GIANTS 4, NATIONALS 3
WASHINGTON — Pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning, helping San Francisco get the win.
Down to his last strike, Sanchez connected off closer Rafael Soriano (2-3) on a full-count pitch. The drive landed just inside the right-field foul pole in the second deck.
REDS 2, BREWERS 1
MILWAUKEE — Joey Votto hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning and Tony Cingrani pitched solidly into the seventh, lifting Cincinnati over Milwaukee.
METS 4, PADRES 1
SAN DIEGO — Marlon Byrd lined a two-out double over a hesitant right-fielder Chris Denorfia’s head in the eighth inning, Mets outfielders saved two runs with outstanding plays and New York snapped a three-game skid by beating San Diego.