The Tampa Bay Rays continue to take their current surge in stride.
Looking to win nine straight for the first time in 10 years, the Rays can do so by handing the visiting Boston Red Sox a fifth consecutive defeat Saturday night.
Evan Longoria delivered a tiebreaking, three-run double in the seventh inning and David Price won his sixth straight start in Tampa Bay’s 6-4 victory Friday.
Winners in 19 of 24 and 26-11 since losing 14 of 15, the Rays (50-53) are in position to win nine in a row for the first time since a 12-game run in 2004. They erased a pair of one-run deficits to improve to 4-0 at home against the Red Sox (47-56) this year.
"We’ve won some games and we’ve done some things that kind of remind us of what we’re capable of, but by no means are we where we want to be," Longoria said. "We’ve got a lot of work to do."
Longoria, who has 16 RBIs in 16 games, is batting .387 in his last seven against Boston.
The Red Sox, who sent right-hander Jake Peavy to San Francisco on Saturday for a pair of minor league pitchers, outscored their opponents 38-6 during a five-game winning streak that preceded this four-game skid in which they’ve been outscored 27-11.
"We’ve got to get back on the right track," manager John Farrell told MLB’s official website.
They should have a good chance to do so with John Lackey (11-6, 3.66 ERA) facing the Rays, against whom he’s 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in two starts this season. Most recently, he gave up five hits in seven scoreless innings of a 1-0 defeat at Tropicana Field on May 23.
The right-hander has allowed three runs and six hits in 13 innings to win two straight starts – both on the road – after going 1-2 with a 10.29 ERA in his previous three.
Including the postseason, Longoria is batting .359 (14 for 39) with three doubles and two home runs versus Lackey. Teammate Ben Zobrist, who had four hits Friday, is hitting .355 with three doubles against him during the regular season.
Tampa Bay will recall Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 2.08) from the minors to make his second start of 2014.
After opening on the disabled list while recovering from elbow surgery, the right-hander allowed a run in 4 1-3 innings of a 4-3 win over Kansas City in his season debut July 8. The Rays then optioned him to the minors to get some work.
"Everything seemed to be good. We wanted to keep him rolling," manager Joe Maddon said. "The awkward schedule permitted us to do it this way, also, coming out of the (All-Star) break.
"He’s ready to roll."
Hellickson is 4-2 with a 3.93 ERA in 12 regular-season starts against the Red Sox, but he was yanked in the second inning of Boston’s 3-1 win in Game 4 of the ALDS that eliminated the Rays.
David Ortiz, who has nine RBIs in his last five games, is hitting .375 (9 for 24) with three home runs against Hellickson.
Boston’s Shane Victorino homered Friday and is 10 for 23 in six games since missing almost two months with a hamstring injury. He’s batting .400 (8 for 20) with five RBIs versus Tampa Bay this season but is 0 for 4 overall against Hellickson.