By Bradley Walker, 1010 Sports

ST. PETERSBURG (CBS)  The Rays completed their first sweep at Tropicana Field Thursday afternoon by beating the Kansas City Royals 4-1 behind the dominant pitching of Jeff Niemann.

With the win Tampa Bay sits 9 1/2 games behind Boston in the American League East and 8 1/2 back in the AL Wild Card race.

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The Rays have compiled three 4-game sweeps against the Royals since July of 2000. August seems to be the month when the Rays are at their best. According to Stats, Inc. the Rays are a major-league-best 59-34 in the month of August since 2008.

Niemann went 6 1/3 innings today and gave up one earned run to pick up his seventh win of the season. He is unbeaten and has gone 6-0 in eight starts since returning from the DL on June 20.

The team is on a win streak and has been playing good ball in recent weeks. They have won four straight and are victorious in nine of their last 13 games.

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Ben Zobrist led the offense in today’s game at Tropicana Field. He had two RBIs in the third with a two out triple off of Royals starter Danny Duffy.

Tampa Bay made great plays both at the plate and on the field today, and by the way they performed this afternoon it felt like they were still coming down from the high they experienced from last night’s dramatic come-from-behind win.

“I consider it a lot of fun,” skipper Joe Maddon said after the game. “We’re fighting from behind right now, and we’re going to play in two venues where we know it’s going to be a full house each night. There is a lot riding on a lot of this stuff on a nightly basis, and for me, it’s the most fun there is.”

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Kyle Farnsworth (21) picked up the save for the Rays, and now the team will travel to New York to open up a three-game series with the Yankees.