Rays-Orioles Preview

The Tampa Bay Rays were struggling on the road heading into

their series with the Baltimore Orioles, but they seem rather

comfortable at Camden Yards.

Tampa Bay looks to complete a three-game sweep of the Orioles by

winning for the seventh time in eight games Wednesday night.

The Rays had dropped five straight contests away from home –

their longest road skid since 2009 – before winning Monday’s series

opener 4-3 behind a two-run homer from Matt Joyce and a solo shot

from Evan Longoria.

Joyce, who had five RBIs in his previous 28 games combined, then

drove in three runs as Wil Myers added a pair of RBIs in Tuesday’s

7-4 victory to help Tampa Bay (72-52) win for the fifth straight

time in Baltimore.

The Rays, who lead the AL wild-card race and are tied with

Boston for the East lead, have won six of seven overall following a

six-game losing streak.

“It’s very big for where we’re at in the division and the fact

we’re chasing the Red Sox a little bit and also trying to create

some distance, because we know the O’s and the Yankees are very

capable and very tough competitors,” said Ben Zobrist, who had two

hits and an RBI. “We don’t anticipate it being any sort of easy

road to the end of September. This is two great wins for us to

start off.”

Baltimore (67-58), meanwhile, has lost six of eight and sits 5

1/2 games behind Tampa, which has won seven of the last eight

meetings overall. Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer in the ninth

Tuesday to pull the Orioles closer, but they couldn’t overcome the

Rays’ four-run top half of the inning.

Wieters is 16 for 48 with five of his 19 homers and 14 RBIs in

the season series. He’s a career .337 hitter with 15 home runs in

69 games against Tampa Bay.

Teammate Chris Davis singled, walked and was hit by a pitch, but

he’s just 2 for 22 (.091) in his last six versus the Rays. He hit

.483 with four homers, four doubles and 15 RBIs in the first eight

meetings this season.

Baltimore will look to get back on track with help from Wei-Yin

Chen, who has been solid recently against the Rays.

Chen (6-6, 3.23 ERA), though, has lost three straight starts

while posting a 4.66 ERA after allowing four runs in 6 1-3 innings

of Friday’s 6-3 loss to Colorado. He gave up at least three runs

for the fifth consecutive outing despite striking out seven and

retiring 12 of the first 13 hitters he faced.

“I feel bad because it’s my fault,” Chen said. “I couldn’t keep

the guys in the ballgame. But tomorrow is another day.”

The left-hander is 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA over the last four times

he’s faced the Rays, though. Chen allowed two runs in 5 2-3 innings

before Tampa Bay rallied for an 8-7 win April 3. He opposed Jeremy

Hellickson in that contest and will do so again Wednesday.

Hellickson (10-6, 4.91) gave up five runs and eight hits in six

innings versus the Orioles in April before allowing a career

worst-tying eight runs in 7 2-3 innings of a 12-10 win May 17.

The right-hander’s last outing against Baltimore went much

better, as he gave up four hits in six innings of an 8-0 victory

June 8. Hellickson, though, is 0-3 with an 8.00 ERA over his last

four starts after giving up three runs in six innings of Tampa

Bay’s 5-4 win over Toronto on Friday.

Hellickson is 8-3 with a 3.09 ERA in 14 career starts versus the

Orioles, who have lost five of seven at home.