After Jeremy Hellickson went without a victory for more than two months, he's been superb in winning each of his last two starts.
The Baltimore Orioles ' Wei-Yin Chen is coming off a gem of his own.
In what could be a low-scoring affair, Hellickson takes the mound against Chen as the Rays continue a three-game set with the visiting Orioles on Saturday night.
Hellickson (6-6, 3.23 ERA) posted an 0-6 record and a 4.29 ERA over a nine-start stretch May 21-July 18 but has since picked up the pace. He gave up one run and three hits in 6 1-3 innings during a 3-1 win over Chen and the Orioles on July 24, then struck out five and walked none over six innings of two-hit ball Sunday in a 2-0 road victory over the Los Angeles Angels .
"Throwing strikes was the main thing," he said. "The last two games I've been attacking the hitters better than I have been. Having no walks is huge for me. I was getting ahead of guys, and the defense was making good plays for me."
Hellickson, who admitted to vomiting five times Sunday, was removed after throwing just 86 pitches.
"I give him a lot of credit. I know he was struggling through the whole thing, and it was hot out there. So it made no sense to send him back out there," manager Joe Maddon said. "He was chalkier than a Des Moines winter."
Chen (9-6, 3.65) enters the weekend having gone 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break, and he was especially good his last time out. The rookie left-hander allowed one unearned run and three hits while striking out a season-high 12 in 5 2-3 innings of Sunday's 6-1 victory over Oakland, setting a single-game MLB record for strikeouts by a Taiwanese-born pitcher.
"I'm sure he'll be modest about it, but there's not a second you don't take that in and realize (what it means)," manager Buck Showalter said. "When you talk about the history of baseball, it always gets my attention. It was fun to watch. I don't for a second not take in what it means to the people of Taiwan. I'm sure they're very proud of Wei-Yin, probably as much as we are."
While Chen has compiled a 5.84 ERA in losing both his meetings with the Rays (56-50), Hellickson has thrived in this series. The right-hander, 5-2 with a 1.99 ERA over eight career starts versus the Orioles, has gone 3-1 with a 0.88 ERA in four home outings against them.
Baltimore (55-51) has had a hard time scoring runs at Tropicana Field in general of late, losing five of six there by a 30-10 margin. The Orioles dropped Friday's series opener 2-0, managing eight hits - all singles - and going 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
"You get some opportunities, you better take advantage of them," Showalter said.
B.J. Upton hit career home run No. 100 and Desmond Jennings also went deep to help the Rays post their fifth win in six games overall. The 27-year-old Upton joins Rickey Henderson , Barry Bonds , Bobby Bonds , Cesar Cedeno , Lloyd Moseby , Eric Davis and Hanley Ramirez as the only players to hit 100 homers and steal 200 bases before age 28.
"Anytime you can be in the same sentence with any of those guys, it's always an honor," said Upton, whose brother Justin also hit his 100th career home run Friday for Arizona.
Tampa Bay's staff has posted four shutouts, a 0.75 ERA and 69 strikeouts in the last six games.
|July 28, 2012||Jim Thome||15-Day DL||Herniated disc|
|July 16, 2012||Robert Andino||15-Day DL||Left shoulder subluxation|
|July 16, 2012||Robert Andino||15-Day DL||Left shoulder subluxation|
|July 14, 2012||Jason Hammel||15-Day DL||Arthroscopic surgery, right knee|
|July 02, 2012||Brian Roberts||15-Day DL||Torn muscle, right hip|
|June 28, 2012||Nick Johnson||60-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|July 21, 2012||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
|July 21, 2012||Alex Cobb||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee contusion|
|July 02, 2012||Hideki Matsui||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|June 30, 2012||Jeremy Hellickson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right shin|
|June 29, 2012||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
|June 20, 2012||Matt Joyce||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Wei-Yin Chen has put together a pair of strong performances.
Chen allowed five hits in seven innings, Chris Davis had two RBIs, and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-0 on Saturday.
"Chen was the story," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Chen (10-6) struck out four and walked one, improving to 4-1 in his past six road starts. After Pedro Strop gave up a single in the eighth, closer Jim Johnson pitched the ninth in a non-save situation to complete a six-hitter.
"I feel good today," Chen said through a translator. "Especially, (catcher Matt) Wieters gave me a really good target. I just hit the target."
Chen was coming off a start last Sunday where he struck out 12 in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics .
"Five three-ball counts in two games ... he made a lot of quality pitches," Showalter said. "He's got a good understanding of what's going on up here at this level right now, and we hope to ride it."
The Orioles took a 4-0 lead on Davis' two-run single in the fourth off Jeremy Hellickson (6-7). Davis has driven in 12 runs during a nine-game hitting streak.
Hellickson lasted just four innings, allowing four runs and eight hits. The right-hander struck out four and walked four.
"I just couldn't make a big pitch when I needed to," Hellickson said.
Wieters put the Orioles ahead 1-0 on a first-inning RBI single. Baltimore had gone 0 for 22 with runners in scoring position in its previous two games.
"It's nice to be able to get a hit and RBI, especially when runs can be at a premium," Wieters said. "Try and take the lead early and make it stand up."
Nick Markakis made it 2-0 with a run-scoring single in the second. He drove in Nate McLouth , who had a leadoff double. McLouth had his contract purchased from Triple-A Norfolk before the game.
Tampa Bay had two on with one out in the fourth, but Chen struck out Carlos Pena and got a foul pop fly from Sean Rodriguez .
Wieters walked and swiped second for his second stolen base of the game and third this season with two outs in the third. He was thrown out by right fielder Sam Fuld attempting to score on Wilson Betemit 's single.
Notes: Showalter said season-ending surgery performed on 2B Brian Roberts to repair a torn labrum in his right hip went well and that the infielder could ready for spring training next year. ... Tampa Bay 3B Evan Longoria , out since May 1 because of a partially torn left hamstring, will be evaluated Monday. Rays manager Joe Maddon has not ruled out Longoria rejoining the team during a three-game series against Toronto that starts on Tuesday. ... Baltimore RHP Jason Hammel (right knee) could resume throwing off a mound in about 10 days. ... To make room on the roster for McLouth, the Orioles designated OF Endy Chavez for assignment.