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TB@DET: Moore fans four in first start of 2012 season

Matt Moore passed his first big test in the Majors last September at Fenway Park, coming on in relief and pitching out of two tough jams amid the Rays' American League Wild Card surge past the Red Sox.

The rookie left-hander will make his second start of the season Sunday -- which is Jackie Robinson Day in every Major League Baseball park -- in that familiar environment against the Red Sox and lefty Felix Doubront.

But Boston's lineup won't have quite the same look to it without center fielder and leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury, who's out for six to eight weeks with a subluxed right shoulder.

Moore's Sept. 17 outing, in which he allowed one run despite putting two men in scoring position in two of his three innings, proved to the Rays that he was capable of holding his own in the difficult AL East. It was after that performance that Tampa Bay began to consider offering Moore the long-term contract extension he signed in December, Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said this offseason.

It gave Moore a nice confidence boost as well.

"It was my second time out and I had the opportunity to go either way, down or up, so I wound up making a few good pitches and getting out of some tight situations. Felt good for it being my first good one," Moore said. "It gave me peace of mind that I could get out of some jams, pitching out of a couple of tight situations when I didn't necessarily have that feel that I like to have when I'm out there."

Moore didn't have his best command in his first start of the year on Tuesday, when he walked five batters in 6 2/3 innings, but the southpaw felt he had a "decent" outing in terms of how he approached a tough group of Tigers hitters. It won't get any easier facing the Sox's loaded lineup, even without Ellsbury.

Cody Ross figures to fill in for Ellsbury in center field. He started there Saturday afternoon, and he has plenty of experience fielding the position -- 382 games, more than 50 percent of his games played in the outfield. While many of those games came back in his younger days with the Marlins, Ross also handled himself well in the spacious outfield in AT&T Park last season.

"I've always thought that center field is the easiest of the three, just cause you have a direct view of the pitch, you know where the location [of the pitch is going to be because of the catcher's alignment]," Ross said. "At the corners, you have no idea. ... It's more of a reaction."

But who will take Ellsbury's leadoff spot in the lineup? That could vary on a game-by-game basis, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. Shortstop Mike Aviles found his name slotted atop the order Saturday, but Valentine said he wasn't concerned about who fill bat leadoff.

"You all said we don't have a leadoff hitter," Valentine said. "I'm thinking we're going to win a lot of games. Your comment and my comment don't kind of compute."

Rays: New acquisitions adding power to lineup
• The Rays went over their budget this offseason to sign free-agent sluggers Luke Scott and Carlos Pena, hoping to add power to the often-punchless lineup they trotted out last season. So far, that investment is paying off.

After going 1-for-4 with an RBI double on Saturday, Pena is batting .379 with nine RBIs on the year. Scott, meanwhile, slugged his first homer with Tampa Bay on Saturday, and drove in another run on a third-inning double, giving him an early .455 average and seven RBIs.

• Only eight players on the Rays' roster have faced Doubront in their careers. In all, they're 4-for-12 with three extra-base hits, two strikeouts, four walks and a hit by pitch. Scott bashed a home run in his one plate appearance against Doubront in 2010, and Evan Longoria is 1-for-2 with two walks against the 24-year-old lefty.

Red Sox: Doubront off to a good start
• Knowing there would be competition for the final spots in their rotation, the Red Sox challenged Doubront this offseason to put himself in position to make the big league club. Doubront came into the spring with no Minor League options remaining, arrived to camp early, put together a solid Spring Training and made the team.

General manager Ben Cherington said the club didn't suggest an offseason plan to Doubront, but he took it upon himself and did everything he needed to. He struck out a career-high six batters over five innings in his first big league start against Toronto, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks.

"He's had success. He knows how to pitch. He's got stuff. He's got feel. He's a very smart guy, understands pitching," Cherington said. "He's just had some minor physical issues -- especially last year that kept him off the mound that he wasn't in a position to help our Major League team.

"That was the big thing. 'Let's have the best offseason you can to put yourself in a position to be a guy we can count on.' He did that, and he's off to a good start."

• The Red Sox called up Che-Hsuan Lin from Triple-A Pawtucket for his first day in the Majors on Saturday, and he played the final inning in center field. But he likely won't have a long stay in Boston, as Valentine said the roster "definitely could" change as soon as Sunday. His explanation for exactly how it could change, however, was a little more complicated.

"There was a situation that we were kind of waiting on that now has happened, so now we can move forward," Valentine said. "But there was a complicating situation that an injury complicated, so we decided to wait on this day with the day game and all. Actually, there was a complicated situation in the Minor Leagues that complicated the situation that was making things very complicated after Jacoby complicated it even more -- if you can imagine that. But that was it. We almost solved it about 1:30 last night, but we didn't."

Worth noting
• Boston had two home runs entering Saturday's game then hit three off Jeremy Hellickson in five innings, with Aviles and Ross adding two more off Tampa Bay relievers. Hellickson hadn't given up multiple home runs in a game since July 3, 2011, against the Cardinals, and had never allowed three homers in a Major League game.

• Outfielder Ryan Sweeney has hit safely in each of his seven games this season after going 1-for-4 with a double on Saturday. This is the second-longest such streak of his career to start a season, behind his 13-game hitting streak to start the 2010 season. Comments