D-backs host Rays in two-game series

After a day off, the Diamondbacks return to the Contenders-R-Us portion of their schedule with a two-game series against Tampa Bay that begins Tuesday at Chase Field, a week after splitting a two-game series against the Rays in St. Petersburg.

The Rays were in first place in the AL East the last time the teams met, but Boston passed them to take a one-game division lead by winning two of three games against the D-backs in Fenway Park over the weekend. The short Tampa Bay series is the conclusion of the D-backs’ eight-game run against teams that are either in first or second place in their division in the American League, including a makeup game against Texas last Thursday.

The D-backs went 2-4 on the recent trip and scored only 19 runs, seven each in their victories and five in the four losses. They were shut out on Sunday and averted shutouts in the ninth inning of two others.

Tampa Bay has won 25 of its last 31 games, the same as the team the D-backs are chasing in the NL West, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are suddenly 5 ½ games ahead in the NL West, but they still have three games remaining against both Tampa Bay and Boston and four against St. Louis, although both the AL series are in Dodger Stadium.

Pitching matchups:
Tuesday — RHP Jeremy Hellickson (10-4, 4.60 ERA) vs. LHP Wade Miley (8-8, 3.68). Wednesday — RHP Chris Archer (6-4, 2.65) vs. RHP Randall Delgado (4-3, 3.17).

Who’s hot for the Diamondbacks: Cody Ross was 6 for 13 with a home run and three RBI against Boston and has 13 hits in his last 27 at-bats, with two doubles, two homers and eight RBIs. He has started the last five games. … New left-handed specialist Joe Thatcher has not given up a hit to any of the eight batters he has faced since joining the D-backs at the trade deadline. He retired Boston cleanup hitter David Ortiz all three times he faced him in Boston. … Wade Miley has won four of his last five starts and has not given up more than three earned runs in any of his last 11 starts. He was 4-1 with a 1.59 ERA in six July starts. … Paul Goldschmidt has homered in three of his last five games. … Martin Prado has eight hits in his last 20 at-bats, with three doubles.

Who’s not: Gerardo Parra has nine hits in his last 77 at-bats, with one extra-base hit and one RBI. He has started the last 11 games. … David Hernandez has given up nine earned runs and four home runs in his last 12 appearances, covering 11 innings.

Who’s hot for the Rays: Rookie Will Myers was hot the last time the D-backs saw him, and he has stayed that way. He has 29 hits in his last 67 at-bats (.433) with five homers and 17 RBI after a two-run homer in a 4-3 victory over San Francisco on Sunday. … Chris Archer had a four-game winning streak snapped by the Giants on Friday, but he is 4-1 with a 1.18 ERA in his last five starts. He has given up 29 base-runners in his last 38 innings. … Reliever Alex Torres, who got the win Sunday, has given up one earned run in 34 1/3 innings this season. One. His ERA is 0.26.

Who’s not: James Loney has two hits in his last 19 at-bats. … Matt Joyce has three hits in his last 17 at-bats.

Notes, quotes, odds and ends: The D-backs (56-55) are attempting to avoid dropping to .500 for the second time this season. They were 1-1 after splitting the first two games of the season against St. Louis and have been over .500 since. They are 6-10 since the All-Star break and had lost seven games to the Dodgers in that span prior to Zack Greinke’s start on Monday night. … The D-backs are 4 ½ games behind Cincinnati for the second wild-card spot … Tampa Bay center fielder Desmond Jennings was held out of the lineup Sunday with a sprained left middle finger. His availability is unknown. … The first game of this series is a rematch of the D-backs’ 7-0 victory on July 31, when Miley gave up two hits and five walks over 6 1/3 scoreless innings and the D-backs got seven hits and four runs off Hellickson in 4 1/3 innings. Eric Chavez had a two-run homer in that game, and also a two-run homer vs. the Rays the day before. … Rays handyman Ben Zobrist was 5 for 8 with three doubles and two RBI in the first series against the D-backs. … Cody Ross has hits in his last four at-bats against Hellickson.