Rays eye quick sweep of D'backs
The Tampa Bay Rays look to resume their winning ways when they go for a two-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks Wednesday night from Tropicana Field.
The Rays are aiming to win their 11th straight series and took Tuesday's opener with the D'backs, 5-2. Roberto Hernandez stole the show and went the distance on the mound, allowing two runs with six strikeouts and one walk.
"We have had days he has thrown the ball better, but not with the results he wanted. Today was really, really special because of the results," Rays catcher Jose Molina said.
It was Hernandez's first complete game of the season and eighth of his career.
Tampa Bay starters are 19-3 with seven complete games since the end of June.
Ben Zobrist went 3-for-4 with two RBI and Yunel Escobar had two hits, including a solo homer, and two RBI for the Rays, who improved to 23-4 over their last 27 games and are a season-high 21 games over. 500.
Tampa also maintained a half-game lead over Boston in the AL East and owns a 21-4 mark this month. The 1941 New York Yankees were 25-4 in July.
Rays outfielder Wil Myers extended his hitting-streak to 11 games.
Jeremy Hellickson draws the start for the Rays Wednesday and is hoping to keep his current unbeaten streak intact. Hellickson is 6-0 with a 2.09 earned run average in his last seven starts -- all Tampa wins. Hellickson threw six innings of one-run ball in Friday's 10-6 win at Yankee Stadium, improving to 10-3 in 21 starts this season with a 4.48 ERA.
Hellickson, a right-hander, is 5-1 in 11 home starts and will face the D'backs for the first time in his career.
Arizona's recent loss dropped the club 3 1/2 games behind the surging Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West.
D'backs starter Ian Kennedy was tagged for three runs and six hits in five innings to suffer the loss and hasn't prevailed since June 1. He is 0-5 in the last 10 outings and Arizona is 1-9 in that stretch.
"It's been kind of consistent early on, leaving pitches up in the zone. As the game went on I started to feel pretty good and got a lot of pitches over for strikes," explained Kennedy, who is still stuck on 49 career wins.
Eric Chavez had a two-run homer and Gerardo Parra scored a run for the D'backs, losers in three straight games. The Diamondbacks still have a record above .500 (12-11) in the previous 23 contests.
Arizona catcher Miguel Montero did not play Tuesday and has reached base safely in 18 straight interleague games, while Parra is riding a nine-game hitting streak against AL clubs.
Wade Miley will toe the rubber for the D'backs on Wednesday and he has won three of his previous four trips to the hill. Miley last took the mound in Thursday's 3-1 win over the Chicago Cubs and limited them to a run over 7 2/3 innings. The win pushed his 2013 mark to 7-8 in 21 starts with a 3.86 ERA.
Miley is 3-6 in 13 road assignments this season and the left-hander has never faced the Rays.
Arizona and Tampa Bay are meeting for the first time since the Diamondbacks won two of three matchups back in 2010.