MLB

Preview: Rays aim to run win streak to 3 in finale in Toronto

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TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.

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TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays have tried to improve their record to .500 six times this season. Each time they have failed.

The most recent attempt was Tuesday night when they lost 8-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays. Their record fell to 31-33, which means they will not be able to reach .500 Wednesday night at the Rogers Centre when they wrap up their two-game set with the Rays.

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The Rays will start right-hander Jake Odorizzi (4-3, 3.59 ERA) against Blue Jays left-hander Francisco Liriano (3-2, 5.87 ERA).

The Blue Jays hope that reaching .500 is a first step to working their way back into contention in the American League East after a 2-11 start to the season.

"We'd like to get there (.500), that's for sure," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We will get there, hopefully sooner rather than later. Of course, that's frustrating. You keep climbing back and it was a battle to get to that point, to even get close (to .500). But we'll get there. We'll get on a roll. We've always felt that."

The Rays, meanwhile, can move to four games above .500 for the first time this season if they can beat the Blue Jays Wednesday. Their win over the Blue JaysTuesday put them at 35-32. They have not been more than three games above .500 or more than three games below .500 all season. No other major league team can say that.

They have had a .500 record 18 times this season.

Both the Rays and the Jays have had to deal with injuries to key players.

Rays starting pitcher Matt Andriese could be out until August with a right hip stress reaction and their center fielder, Kevin Kiermaier, went on the disabled list Friday with a right hip fracture and is expected to be out for two months.

"At the end of the day they're big losses, Matt Andriese is a big loss, KK, we've gone through this already with KK, we know how huge this can be," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I think it does bring the guys together. And it's always nice when you get the guys that come in to fill in and get some really strong performances from them. And that's what we've gotten. Mallex Smith has been outstanding on both sides of the ball. … And Jake Faria to fill in the last two starts, looks like he belongs."

Faria has won his first two career major league starts, including the game Tuesday against the Blue Jays.

Smith singled Tuesday to extend his hitting streak to five games. He was recalled prior to the game Friday against the Oakland Athletics to replace Kiermaier. In the four-game series against Oakland, he was 8-for-14 (.571/.625/.857) with a home run, two walks, three RBIs, four stolen bases, six runs and two bunt singles.

Odorizzi, who was originally scheduled to start Tuesday, was moved to Wednesday in the rotation so that Faria could start Tuesday. Faria was recalled to replace Andriese on the roster when the right-hander was put on the DL retroactive to Sunday.

Odorizzi has allowed home runs in eight straight starts, matching his career high. He has yielded home runs in 16 of his past 17 starts, a total of 19 homers. He allowed a three-run homer Thursday to Avisail Garcia of the Chicago White Sox in the sixth inning of a 7-5 Rays win. Odorizzi went 6 2/3 innings against the White Sox, allowing eight hits, one walk and three runs while striking out eight to earn the win. It was his longest start since going seven innings against the Blue Jays on May 6.

He is 5-2 with a 3.06 ERA in 13 career starts against Toronto and is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts this season. He has allowed two or fewer earned runs in seven of his starts against the Blue Jays. He is 2-2 with a 4.54 ERA in seven starts at the Rogers Centre.

Liriano is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts since returning from the disabled list June 2 after being out with shoulder inflammation. He will be starting against the Rays for the fourth time this season.

He is 1-0 with a 9.00 ERA in his three starts against the Rays this season. In 13 career games (12 starts) against the Rays, he is 3-3 with a 5.61 ERA.