The Tampa Bay Rays are playing their best baseball right now, but still have some work to do if they intend on making a playoff push.
The Rays will take a five-game winning streak into Boston Tuesday for the opener of a quick two-game series with the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Tampa Bay sits three games off the final wild card spot in the American League and just swept the Toronto Blue Jays in three games over the weekend at Tropicana Field. In Sunday's 3-0 win, reigning AL Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson delivered 5 2/3 shutout innings and struck out six batters for the win. Five relievers kept the Jays off the board the rest of the way and closer Fernando Rodney continued his pursuit of a Cy Young Award with his 44th save.
Hellickson talked about his ability to keep balls down.
"They just hit it on the ground," Hellickson said following his first win since Aug. 20. "I've been getting more ground balls this year -- I just kept the ball down."
B.J. Upton hit a solo homer in the first inning and Evan Longoria went 2-for-4 with two RBI for the Rays, who have scored 46 runs during a five-game winning streak.
The Rays will also visit the Chicago White Sox on their six-game trip, but have dropped five of their last six games away from the Trop.
David Price looks to get the Rays off to a good start on the trek when he takes the mound Tuesday. Price will try to join Angels ace Jered Weaver as the only 19-game winners in the AL and did not record a decision in Thursday's 7-4 win over the Red Sox, as he struck out seven and allowed three runs in 7 1/3 innings. Price is 10-1 in his last 11 decisions and 18-5 with a 2.58 earned run average in 29 starts.
Price, who leads the majors in ERA, is 1-1 in four matchups with the Red Sox this season and 7-4 with a 3.19 ERA over 14 career starts in this series.
Boston ended a four-game slide and salvaged the finale of a three-game series versus the Baltimore Orioles with Sunday's 2-1 win.
Cody Ross stroked an RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring Dustin Pedroia, and finished with two hits and a run scored. Pedroia finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and Scott Podsednik had two hits for the Red Sox.
"(Pedroia) got a big double to lead off the inning and Cody, who has driven in runs all year, drove in the second run for us to squeeze by. They're good players," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said.
The Red Sox received a strong performance from Felix Doubront, who fanned a career-best 11 batters and held the red-hot Orioles to a run and four hits in seven innings.
Boston hopes to have center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury back in the lineup. He hasn't played since Thursday with an arm issue.
Clay Buchholz draws the start for the hosts tonight and is 0-3 with a 4.07 ERA in his last six starts. Boston is only 1-5 in that span and wasted seven scoreless innings his last time out in a 7-4 loss at Tampa Bay. Buchholz did not record a decision and is 11-6 with a 4.16 ERA in 27 starts.'
Buchholz is 5-4 in 13 career starts against the Rays to go along with a 2.52 ERA, spanning 82 innings.
Boston is 9-7 against Tampa Bay this season.