What happened at the plate made Wednesday night memorable for Alex Cobb, as he dealt with the joy of doubling in a run on his first big-league hit and the agony of thinking his elbow was broken when hit by a pitch.


But what he did on the mound was most significant, making a slight adjustment in pregame warmups that led back to his old form over seven sterling innings, and leading the Rays to a seventh straight win, 3-0 over the Cardinals.

"That was Cobber right there," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "We haven't seen that for a bit."

The Rays not only extended their season-best winning streak, but in sweeping three from the Twins and two from the Cardinals, they completed their first undefeated multi­city road trip in franchise history.

The Rays have won 16 of 20 and 25 of 36 to improve to 49-53. With the trade deadline a week away, they moved within 4½ games of the Mariners for the second AL wild-card spot, though with four teams between them, and seven behind the AL East-leading Orioles, who lost to the Angels.

Third baseman Evan Longoria delivered a sac fly and made several dazzling defensive plays, Brandon Guyer knocked in an insurance run and Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee got the last six outs, five on strikeouts.

But the story of the game was Cobb.

The double in the second inning — a slicing shot down the rightfield line with two outs — was his first hit, and the first extra-base hit for a Rays pitcher since Andy Sonnanstine doubled in May 2009 vs. Cleveland.

"That's the coolest thing I've done in my big-league career, doubling in a run," said Cobb, who was batting eighth.