While the Tampa Bay Rays are in the mix for both the AL East and wild-card leads, the Arizona Diamondbacks must string together some victories in order to remain a serious NL playoff contender.
Looking to win consecutive games for the first time in almost two weeks, the Diamondbacks try to sweep the two-game interleague set from the visiting Rays on Wednesday night.
Cody Ross hit a three-run homer and Wade Miley threw seven strong innings as Arizona (57-55) avoided a third straight defeat with a 6-1 victory over Tampa Bay on Monday.
The Diamondbacks have just won three times — twice versus Tampa Bay — in the last nine games. They trail the NL West-leading Dodgers by five games and are 4 1/2 out of the final wild-card spot. Arizona last won consecutive games July 25-26.
“We just have to put runs on the board more,” said third baseman Eric Chavez, who is 5 for 11 with seven RBIs in three games against Tampa Bay this season.
The Rays (66-46) lost for the ninth time in 37 games. They lead the wild-card race and are 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Red Sox in the East.
Evan Longoria’s solo homer gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead in the fourth, but Arizona scored four times in the bottom of the frame to break things open. Longoria is 2 for 23 in his last six contests following an 11-game hitting streak.
Ross has batted .452 (14 for 31) with three homers and 10 RBIs in his last eight games.
“He’s barreling the ball a lot better,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “You can see that coming on. He’s much calmer at the plate and not jumping at the pitch.”
Randall Delgado (4-3, 3.17 ERA) takes the mound for the D-backs looking for a fourth straight winning start, but he allowed six runs — four earned — and a pair of two-run homers while striking out seven in six innings of a 7-6 victory in Boston on Friday.
The right-hander, who threw 14 2/3 scoreless innings over his previous two outings, is 1-5 with a 6.35 ERA during interleague play.
“He actually hung in there pretty good,” Gibson told the Diamondbacks’ official website. “We kept grinding away.”
Delgado gave up a grand slam to Matt Joyce as well as two other hits and walked five in four innings of a 5-2 loss at Tampa Bay last season.
The Rays counter with Chris Archer (6-4, 2.65), who gave up four runs in 37 innings while going 4-0 in five July starts, but matched that total while allowing two homers in seven innings of a 4-1 loss to the Giants on Friday.
“It’s good to stay humble and continue to work. It’s all just a reminder,” Archer told the Rays’ official website. “You’re facing major league hitters. Just because you had a couple scoreless outings doesn’t mean that they can’t score four or five runs off you in one-third of an inning.”
Making his first appearance against the Diamondbacks, the right-hander is 0-2 with a 3.46 ERA against NL opponents.
Teammate Wil Myers is batting .415 (17 for 41) during a 10-game road hitting streak.