Two years removed from leading their respective teams in wins, the Baltimore Orioles’ Chris Tillman and Tampa Bay Rays’ Matt Moore are struggling to find their way.
As both try to snap four-game losing streaks, the Orioles hope to give a boost to their shrinking playoff hopes Thursday night when they open a four-game series at Tropicana Field.
Tillman emerged as one of Baltimore’s top hurlers in 2013 when he went 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA, then went 13-6 with a 3.34 mark last season and won a playoff game.
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The right-hander, however, has taken a step back in a wildly inconsistent 2015. He went 0-6 with a 6.10 ERA from April 23-May 31 before going 7-0 with a 3.47 mark in his next 12 starts.
Tillman (9-11, 5.21 ERA), though, has since gone 0-4 with an 8.42 ERA in five outings. He’ll face Tampa Bay for a sixth time in 2015, having posted a 1.74 ERA in three on the road.
The Orioles (71-74) had won six of seven before Tuesday’s 10-1 loss to Boston kept them 5 1/2 games back of an AL wild-card spot with 17 remaining. They’ve won six of nine at Tropicana this season.
"We’ve said we need to go out there and win ’em all," shortstop J.J. Hardy said. "We need to take that same approach going into the next series (at Tampa)."
The Rays (70-75), one game behind Baltimore, are turning to Moore (1-4, 8.42) as they try to avoid their 10th loss in 14 games.
The left-hander went 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA for the 2013 playoff team before he was limited to two starts the following season. Moore returned from Tommy John surgery in July, going 1-3 with an 8.78 ERA in six starts before getting sent to Triple-A Durham. He hasn’t been much better in two outings since being called back up, going 0-1 with a 7.45 ERA.
The 2013 All-Star allowed eight runs and a career-high four homers over five innings in Saturday’s 10-4 home loss to Boston. He hasn’t pitched into the sixth inning in a team-record nine straight starts.
"We have to stay more competitive on my day on the mound," he told MLB’s official website.
Moore had been 4-2 with a 1.89 ERA in six starts versus Baltimore before posting an 11.70 mark while losing the last two. In his only start against the Orioles this season, he gave up five runs over five innings in a 5-2 home loss July 26.
Matt Wieters is 8 for 14 against Moore, Adam Jones is 11 for 21 and each has two homers off him.
Tampa Bay fell to 2-4 on its 10-game homestand Wednesday following a 3-1 loss to the New York Yankees. James Loney had three hits and Steven Souza went 2 for 3 with an RBI.
Evan Longoria enters in a 1-for-16 slump, but he’s hit .348 against Tillman and his six homers off him are the most of anyone. Logan Forsythe is 6 for 11 when facing Tillman this season.
Asdrubal Cabrera is likely to miss his second straight game due to a strained knee.