Miley looks to conclude stellar July with another winning effort
By JEFF MEZYDLO
STATS Senior Writer
One of the many reasons for the Tampa Bay Rays' recent run of success has been the pitching of Jeremy Hellickson.
Though the Arizona Diamondbacks have struggled most of July, Wade Miley has pitched well this month.
Both pitchers look to continue their current success when the AL East-leading Rays try for a 10th consecutive interleague victory Wednesday night against a Diamondbacks team looking to avoid a fourth straight loss.
Tampa Bay (64-43) has won 28 of 36 and holds a one-half game lead over Boston in the division.
"It's been a lot of fun," said Tampa Bay rookie outfielder Wil Myers, who is batting .465 (20 for 43) during an 11-game hitting streak. "We're doing everything we need to do. We're pitching well, we're hitting well, we're getting timely hits, and our bullpen's coming in and shutting the door."
That run began June 19 when the Rays won 6-2 at Fenway Park behind six strong innings from Hellickson (10-3, 4.48 ERA). Tampa Bay has won Hellickson's last seven, starts during which he's gone 6-0 with a 2.09 ERA. The right-hander allowed a run in six innings of a 10-6 victory at Yankee Stadium on Friday.
"(The pitchers) just go out there and be aggressive," Hellickson told the Rays' official website.
He's received an average 7.95 runs of support over those seven starts.
"It's not hard to win games when I'm getting eight, nine, 10 runs a game," Hellickson said.
Though Hellickson is 1-3 with a 6.41 ERA in seven career interleague starts, the Rays improved to 10-1 against NL opponents this season after Tuesday's 5-2 win over Arizona (54-52).
Roberto Hernandez pitched the Rays' seventh complete in July - the most by a club in a calendar month since Philadelphia also recorded seven in May 1999. Rays starters have a 2.10 ERA this month.
"We feel like we're going to be in every single game, which gives us a lot of confidence to play," Myers said.
Ben Zobrist had three hits with two RBIs on Tuesday as Tampa Bay won for the 12th time in 13 home games. The versatile All-Star is batting .381 in his last 10 games.
Averaging 6.2 runs during their nine-game interleague streak, the Rays hope to stay hot at the plate against Miley (7-8, 3.86).
Arizona has dropped 11 of 18, but Miley is 3-1 with a 1.89 ERA in five July starts after going 1-6 with a 5.88 ERA in the previous nine. The left-hander shook off a batted ball to his right leg and gave up a run in 7 2-3 innings of a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.
"He's been doing a great job and been throwing the way we need him to throw," infielder Cliff Pennington told the Diamondbacks' official website.
Eric Chavez hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning and Aaron Hill added two of Arizona's five hits Tuesday. The Diamondbacks have managed five runs and 14 hits during their three-game slide.
All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is 1 for 21 with nine strikeouts the last five contests.
Teammate Aaron Hill, however, is batting .432 (19 for 44) with four homers in his last 12 interleague games.