Rays-Diamondbacks Preview

Arizona Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley has been tough to hit
over his past five starts, and the Tampa Bay Rays found that out in
his last one.

He’ll look to defeat the Rays for the second time in seven days
and will again be matched up with Jeremy Hellickson in Tuesday
night’s opener of a two-game home series.

Miley (8-8, 3.68 ERA) improved to 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA in his
last five by allowing two hits over 6 1-3 innings in Wednesday’s
7-0 win at Tampa Bay. He struck out eight and walked five.

The left-hander is limiting opponents to a .198 average in his
last five outings.

“He goes through times when he kind of gets out of it a little
bit, but he’s a guy that always seems to regain it and find it,”
manager Kirk Gibson said. “He’s got a good run for us now.”

Ben Zobrist and rookie Wil Myers were the only Rays with hits
against Miley, with Evan Longoria going 0 for 2 with a walk.

“He was kind of effectively wild for me,” Longoria told the
Rays’ official website. “He made a lot of good pitches when he
needed to.”

Hellickson (10-4, 4.60) gave up four runs over 4 1-3 innings. He
had been 6-0 with a 2.09 ERA over his previous seven outings, with
the Rays (66-45) winning all of them.

“I couldn’t really command anything and I didn’t make a pitch
when I needed to,” he said. “It’s just one of those games that I’ve
got to put behind me and move on.”

Hellickson will be trying to win his fifth straight road start
after posting a 3.27 ERA over his last four, and he’ll bat for the
first time this season. He’s 0 for 3 at the plate in his
career.

“I’m excited to hit, but it’s not easy,” Hellickson said. “I saw
what his ball can do. It’s going to be tough, but at the same time,
I’m excited. I like hitting, but it’s not easy.”

Last week’s loss to Arizona (56-55) started a four-game stretch
in which Tampa Bay has totaled seven runs. Most of that output came
in Sunday’s 4-3 victory over San Francisco.

Myers hit a two-run homer and the bullpen turned in 4 1-3
scoreless innings.

“Our offense has been struggling a little bit lately, but I just
think as a team our pitching has held us in the game,” Myers said.
“It gives a lot of confidence.”

Arizona also has had trouble scoring. Sunday’s 4-0 defeat at
Boston capped a 2-4 trip in which it scored two runs or fewer four
times.

“We just haven’t been playing good baseball all the way around –
not swinging the bats, not getting hits when we need them, not
making plays,” said outfielder Cody Ross, who was 11 for 22 on the
trip.

The Diamondbacks played Sunday without shortstop Cliff
Pennington, out with a sore left foot.

Tampa Bay is a major league-best 12-3 in interleague play.