By Bradley Walker, 1010 Sports

ST PETERSBURG (CBS) Rookie starting pitcher Alex Cobb had recently joined the Rays as the sixth man in their pitching rotation, a move by Joe Maddon that has paid dividends ever since. Cobb has been flawless in his first seven starts this season, posting three wins with no losses to his name.

As he pitched seven scoreless innings Sunday afternoon, Cobb showed great composure, giving up two hits and no runs to secure the Rays first win against the Royals in a best of three series. Cesar Ramos, Joel Peralta, and Jake Mcgee provided help from the Rays bullpen to give Cobb the win and bring the team to 53-47 on the season.

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The bat of Evan Longoria has reappeared after a slow start offensively for the Rays third baseman, who drove in one run in the third which made his four strikeout game less noticeable. Ben Zobrist also made a healthy offensive contribution this afternoon, going 3-for-4 with two runs batted in.

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Even with the Rays victory on Sunday, they still remain 9 1/2 games off the lead in the AL East and 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card race.

The Rays must win the remaining seven games on this road trip if they want to keep pace with Boston and New York. It’s a bold statement, but these ball clubs aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.

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The team travels west to Oakland to open up a four game series with the Athletics on Monday night.