ST. PETERSBURG -- The count went 2-2 on Adam Eaton, and the fans inside Tropicana Field stood in unison and cheered.
Roberto Hernandez, the bane of Tampa Bay Rays' fans existence for much of this season, was spinning a gem. And the 17,042 in attendance were trying to will one more strike out of him.
Hernandez delivered an 84 mph sinker past Eaton, Arizona's centerfielder, for a called strike three, striking out the side and applying another masterstroke on his finest outing as a Ray.
Behind their sinkerballing righty, the Rays continued their amazing run with a 5-2 win over the Diamondbacks to stay atop the American League East.
The win bumps the Rays' record in July to 21-4, officially making this the winningest month in franchise history.
The game was delayed 20 minutes in the bottom of the second inning when a lightning strike at a nearby substation took out some of the Trop's lights.
But the real story was Hernandez, who recorded his first complete game -- and came
within an out of his first shutout -- since 2010, when he was a Cleveland Indian known as Fausto Carmona.
Hernandez threw like his old self Tuesday, using a power sinker that produced 14 ground-ball outs and yielded just five hits. After Aaron Hill lined a single to center in the first, Arizona didn't hit a fair ball in the air until Jason Kubel flied out to left to open the fifth.
Hernandez induced rally-killing double plays in the first and third innings and followed Eric Chavez's two-out, two-run homer in the ninth by getting Martin Prado to bounce out to third.
"That was by far the sharpest he's been," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Great location. ... You look at the quality of the swings on the other team, and they have a very good ballclub. And they matched up pretty well against him (Tuesday), according to our words, so taking all that into consideration ... his stuff was good."
Hernandez's teammates showered him with similar praise.
"He was hitting the spots very well and his changeup was very good (Tuesday)," said catcher Jose Molina. "And good command, man."
"He looked awesome on the mound," said rightfielder Wil Myers, who went 1-for-2 to push his hittng streak to 11 games. "He was great."
Before the game, Maddon claimed Hernandez was better than his 5-11 record, blaming it more on poor run support -- the Rays averaged 2.06 runs per nine innings in Hernandez's losses when he was in the game -- than the pitcher himself.
The Rays' bats did their best to change that Tuesday, taking a 1-0 lead when Desmond Jennings doubled and Ben Zobrist singled on Ian Kennedy's sixth pitch of the game.
Despite stranding 11 runners on base and going 2-for-14 with guys in scoring position, Tampa Bay managed to do just enough, thanks in part to Zobrist, who had three hits and two RBIs, and Yunel Escobar, who homered in fourth and lofted a run-scoring sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Hernandez took care of the rest while running his record to 6-11.
"Whenever I go to the mound, I hope to have a good day. Sometimes bad, sometimes good," Hernandez said. "I always try to keep the ball down and get a lot of ground balls."
He got a big one in the first. After hitting leadoff hitter Gerardo Parra and allowing Hill's searing single to center, Hernandez got a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Paul Goldschmidt, an MVP candidate.