The Miami Marlins had their best offensive performance in over three weeks, but they still failed to improve upon the majors' worst record.
Fresh off his best start of the season, Jeremy Hellickson aims to extend the Marlins' struggles.
Hellickson gets the nod for the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday night when they host Miami at Tropicana Field.
The Rays (26-24) won their second straight with a 10-6 victory in the opener Monday, powered by Kelly Johnson 's big day. Johnson, who has a .724 slugging percentage in May, connected for two three-run homers while also doubling and singling to give him 24 RBIs in 21 games this month.
"I feel good and I feel confident," Johnson said. "You're always searching for something that's going to let you feel confident and you try to just roll with it. It could be daily, weekly. That's the way baseball is. I'm not going to sit here and try to figure it out."
The right-handed Hellickson (2-2, 5.37 ERA) had endured struggles of his own, yielding 26 runs over 30 innings in a span of five starts from April 25-May 17. That slump was capped by getting tagged for a career-worst eight runs and 10 hits in a 12-10 loss to the Orioles.
He responded by going a season-best eight innings while yielding two runs and four hits against Toronto on Wednesday. But his record stayed at 2-2 as Fernando Rodney 's blown save spoiled his performance in a 4-3 loss.
"He did really well," manager Joe Maddon said. "That was more like Helly tonight."
After a sixth straight loss, the Marlins (13-38) appear to be a prime opponent for Hellickson to keep things rolling. Miami managed only 34 runs while losing 15 of 18 prior to Monday's loss, which saw their highest run total since May 5. It marked just the third time in the last 19 games the club has tallied more than three runs.
After a scare his last time out, Kevin Slowey (1-5, 3.30 ERA) will be able to make his scheduled start for the Marlins. He left after five innings against Philadelphia due to a strained lat muscle, but he told the team's official website he felt no pain after a bullpen session in Chicago on Saturday.
"You want to be healthy as often as you can, and sometimes you can't control it," Slowey said. "But it doesn't mean you don't worry about it. You're like, 'I'd really like this to be minor,' and luckily it was."
Before having his start cut short, Slowey had surrendered one run and six hits, looking much better than his previous two outings when he gave up 11 runs over only 3 2-3 innings. He's 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts against Tampa Bay, though Evan Longoria , Matt Joyce and Yunel Escobar are a combined 3 for 20 off of him.
Ben Zobrist , who was 1 for 3 with an RBI and three runs Monday, is 16 for 35 with an OPS of 1.365 and nine runs driven in over his last 10 games against the Marlins.
Tampa Bay's victory Monday evened the all-time series at 43 wins each.
|May 27, 2013||Alex Sanabia||15-Day DL||Right groin discomfort|
|May 19, 2013||Matt Diaz||15-Day DL||Left knee bone contusion|
|May 08, 2013||Chris Valaika||15-Day DL||Fractured left wrist|
|May 06, 2013||Donovan Solano||15-Day DL||Strained left intercostal muscle|
|April 30, 2013||Giancarlo Stanton||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|April 29, 2013||Giancarlo Stanton||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right hamstring|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|May 16, 2013||David Price||15-Day DL||Left triceps strain|
|May 15, 2013||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left tricep tightness|
|May 08, 2013||Brandon Gomes||15-Day DL||Strained right lat|
|May 04, 2013||Yunel Escobar||Day-to-Day||Left hand contusion|
|April 27, 2013||Jose Molina||Day-to-Day||Knee|
|April 25, 2013||Yunel Escobar||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Desmond Jennings kept the Tampa Bay Rays ' offense rolling along.
Jennings drove in the winning run with a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning in a 7-6 victory over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday.
It was the sixth game the Rays have won this season after giving up six runs or more, matching last season's total. The Rays finished with 16 hits.
"It's so much fun to watch right now," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Even when we were down early and their pitcher was pitching well, I just felt confident that we could come back."
The Rays overcame an early 4-0 deficit and won their third in a row. Miami lost its seventh straight game.
Kelly Johnson opened the ninth with an infield single and took second on Evan Longoria 's single off Mike Dunn (1-1).
With two outs Jennings, who was recently dropped from first to seventh in the Tampa Bay batting order, singled sharply down the right-field line against Chad Qualls , Jennings' third hit of the game.
"I felt I had good at-bats all night," Jennings said. "I remember Joe (moved me down in the batting order) last year toward the middle of the season. It always seems to work."
Fernando Rodney (2-2) got the win.
Luke Scott and Yunel Escobar also had three of Tampa Bay's hits, and the Rays' bottom four hitters hit 11-for-17 with five RBIs.
Greg Dobbs ' two-out single off Joel Peralta gave the Marlins a 6-5 lead in the eighth. Singles by Scott, Jennings and Escobar off Dunn tied it in the bottom half.
Chris Coghlan homered, tripled and drove in three runs for the Marlins. Miami scored five or more runs in a second straight game for the first time this season.
"Anytime you get walked off three times in a road trip, that's rough," manager Mike Redmond said after the Marlins' winless trip. "It wears on everybody. Guys are battling. They're out there playing hard. I sensed that the attitude was good in the dugout. Guys are trying. We just didn't get it done."
Marcell Ozuna doubled in the Miami second, extending his hitting streak to 13 games, and scored on Justin Ruggiano 's single.
The Marlins made it 4-0 in the third against Jeremy Hellickson with the help of RBI triples by Derek Dietrich and Coghlan.
Coghlan led off the sixth with his first home run of the season.
Hellickson pitched 5 1-3 innings, giving up five runs and seven hits.
Miami starter Kevin Slowey also pitched into the sixth, leaving after a double by Scott. Jose Lobaton 's two-run double off Ryan Webb later in the inning tied it at 5.
"You're disappointed anytime your team gives you the lead and you can't hold on to it," said Slowey, who gave up four runs and eight hits. "I thought tonight was a battle on both sides, for both pitchers, both bullpens and all the way around."
Johnson doubled home a run in the third. He has 25 RBIs in 22 games this month.
NOTES: The Rays optioned LHP Jake Odorizzi to Triple-A Durham. They will call up another pitcher Wednesday to start Saturday's game at Cleveland. ... Rays LHP David Price threw for a second straight day, but the AL Cy Young Award winner will miss a third start since straining his left triceps on May 15. The Rays have made no announcement indicating Price will be taken off the DL when he becomes eligible Friday. ... Marlins INFs Joe Mahoney (right hamstring strain) and Donovan Solano (left intercostal strain) are expected to start playing in minor league games by the end of the week. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (right shoulder inflammation) could be ready to return after two more minor league starts.