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SD@TB: Cobb strikes out 13 Padres in just 4 2/3

Alex Cobb wasn't trying to strike everyone out.

"I was trying to put balls over the plate and have them make weak contact, and they were swinging and missing," he said.

While the high strikeout frequency across the Majors may have watered down the excitement a bit, what Cobb did Friday against the Padres -- getting 13 of his 14 outs via the strikeout -- still had plenty of flavor.

Cobb's splitter was so good that San Diego manager Bud Black said his hitters knew it was coming and still couldn't make contact.

Cobb, who starts Thursday as the Rays finish off a three-game series with the Red Sox, became the first Major Leaguer in history to strike out 13 batters in less than five innings.

Perhaps more impressively to note: Stretching the outing to six innings or less, only 22 other pitchers have struck out at least 13.

Cobb would trade a few whiffs for some faster outs as he looks to give the Rays some innings after starter David Price was removed in the third inning of Wednesday's 9-2 loss with left triceps tightness.

"Looking back, I was pretty upset coming off the mound that night," Cobb said of his last outing. "After hearing everybody talk about it, [they told me] I pretty much did the job I needed to do.

"It's not like I fell behind guys. I think I was ahead of 15 guys. I fell behind five or so. I was attacking the zone. They just weren't putting the ball in play, and when they were hitting it, they were fouling it off. That equates to a bad pitch count. I think I did my job, but unfortunately, things didn't go the way I wanted them to."

The Rays had their six-game winning streak snapped Wednesday as the Red Sox's offense finally sprang to life, scoring nine while breaking the five-run barrier for just the fourth time in 14 games.

Boston's starter Thursday, Felix Doubront, could benefit from an early lead.

The 25-year-old lefty hasn't had an ERA below 4.24 all season, as his fastball as been about three ticks slower than it was last year.

"We're trying to do a number of things to try to generate the arm speed and velocity," manager John Farrell said.

While Doubront has been able to jump ahead of hitters, he's struggled to put them away. Even after he has gotten ahead with an 0-2 count, opposing batters are hitting .280.

"It's baseball," Doubront said. "It hasn't just happened to me, it's happened to a lot of pitchers. They can't get the last out, or they can't throw that pitch to get the hitter out in 0-2 counts, that happens. But that comes. That comes from time, and you know, we got a long season. I don't worry about that."

Red Sox: No lineup changes coming
Even as Jacoby Ellsbury struggles to set the table at the top of the lineup, the Red Sox are not planning on changing their batting order.

In the middle of a month-long offensive slump -- though Wednesday's nine-run performance could be a sign of the team turning the corner -- the Sox will stick with what they have, Farrell said.

"I have given it some thought," Farrell said, "and yet the one thing that I don't want to create in there is more uncertainty. And I think at a time when you could understand if some frustration starts to filter in, I want there to be some stability and some continuity to the work that we're doing.

"It's important for those players to know that we believe in our guys, that we like this team, and it's our job to help support them and get them back on track and the track they've been very successful on."

Rays: Bullpen suffers rare setback
After going 16 2/3 innings without allowing a run, the Rays' bullpen crumbled in relief of Price on Wednesday, allowing five runs over 6 2/3 frames.

Four pitchers were used, including veteran righty Jamey Wright, who entered with a 2.30 ERA and promptly allowed a grand slam to Stephen Drew.

Cesar Ramos provided an encouraging performance, as he's been stretched out over the last two weeks. Ramos needed just 42 pitches over three scoreless innings in which he allowed just one hit.

Worth noting
• Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has caught one basestealer in 17 tries this season.

• Franklin Morales will continue his rehab Saturday as the Red Sox are trying to stretch him out as a starter.

• Rays first baseman James Loney boasts a Major League-leading .379 average.

• Tampa Bay is batting .283 with runners in scoring position this season.

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