The Tampa Bay Rays have struggled to score lately and as a result, are in danger of dropping to .500 for the first time in almost a month.
The Boston Red Sox will look to take advantage once again Wednesday night.
On Tuesday, the Red Sox (44-29) held the Rays (36-35) to two runs and 10 hits while sweeping a doubleheader. Tampa Bay has scored just 14 runs while losing six of seven and is hitting .200 during that span. Evan Longoria is 0 for his last 10, James Loney is 1 for his last 25 and Desmond Jennings is batting .192 during that seven-game span.
The Red Sox have won nine of 11 this season against the Rays, including all five games at Fenway Park. Tampa Bay has totaled five runs and batted .148 in those contests.
Boston's Ryan Dempster (4-7, 4.21 ERA) will look to keep those bats in check. He's posted a 3.25 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .216 average in his last four starts. The right-hander threw a season-high 122 pitches in a 2-0 loss at Baltimore on Friday, yielding two runs and five hits over 7 2-3 innings."Ryan did a great job, threw a great game," catcher David Ross said. "That was a huge, huge performance. Those last innings, I think, were his best innings. The slider was really sharp, fastball was sinking."
Dempster did walk five in that outing, however, in a continuation of his season-long control issues. He is fourth in the majors with 40 walks, including 21 over his last six starts.
Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson (4-3, 5.67) aims to overcome a discouraging start his last time out. Coming off of six shutout innings against Baltimore, Hellickson had his worst game of the season Thursday, allowing eight runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 10-1 loss to Kansas City. It marked the sixth time this season that the right-hander allowed five-plus runs.
Hellickson has been victimized by big innings, surrendering multi-run frames in 10 of his 14 starts this season."I'm pretty frustrated," Hellickson said. "It wasn't a fun game. Eight runs, it's unacceptable. It's definitely not pitch selection. I've just got to execute whatever I throw. I wish I could maybe spread around the hits. One here, one there, instead of five, six in a row."
Hellickson has struggled in night games this season. He has a 2.42 ERA during the day, holding the opposition to a .211 batting average. At night, however, Hellickson has a 7.09 ERA with hitters batting .291 against him.
A loss in the finale of this three-game set would be the Rays' season high-tying fourth straight, and would leave them at .500 for the first time since they were 24-24 on May 25.
Dempster and Hellickson have already faced off once this season, with both going seven innings in a 3-2 Boston win on April 15. Dempster set a season high with 10 strikeouts and held Tampa Bay to one run and two hits, while Hellickson also impressed with a season-high nine strikeouts. He limited Boston to two runs and three hits.
Hellickson will want to be careful with David Ortiz , who is 7 for 19 against him with two home runs and six walks. The Red Sox designated hitter went 4 for 8 in Tuesday's doubleheader and is among the league leaders with five home runs this month.
Boston's Jose Iglesias is batting .422 during an 18-game hitting streak.
|Jackie Bradley Jr.||2||.000||0||0||0||0||1||.000||.000||.000|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|June 16, 2013||Alex Cobb||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 05, 2013||Kelly Johnson||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|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|
|Boston Red Sox|
|June 15, 2013||David Ross||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 11, 2013||Clayton Mortensen||15-Day DL||Right hip impingement|
|June 09, 2013||Clay Buchholz||15-Day DL||Neck strain|
|June 08, 2013||Clay Buchholz||Day-to-Day||Left game - neck stiffness|
|May 31, 2013||Jacoby Ellsbury||Day-to-Day||Tight left groin|
|May 26, 2013||Clay Buchholz||Day-to-Day||Right collarbone pain|
BOSTON (AP) -- With only one trip remaining to Fenway Park this season, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon wanted his players to feel the urgency of notching a victory at the home of the AL East leaders.
A couple of youngsters helped ensure the Rays finally left town with a win under their belts.
Desmond Jennings homered, top prospect Wil Myers recorded his first career RBIs and Tampa Bay ended its run of futility at Fenway, beating the Boston Red Sox 6-2 Wednesday night.
The Rays had scored a total of five runs in losing their first five games at the ballpark this season, including a doubleheader sweep Tuesday during which they managed a pair of runs on 10 combined hits.
What a difference a day can make.
"There's some new guys within the group and they need to feel it also here," Maddon said. "We have to beat these guys. You've got to beat the people in front of you in the division, obviously."
Jose Molina and Evan Longoria had three hits apiece in Tampa Bay's 15-hit attack and the Rays ended a three-game losing streak with their second win in eight games. It was their third win in 12 games against Boston this season.
"We have to get back even with these guys, or close to even," Maddon said. "They've had their way with us."
After going a combined 1 for 7 in his extended major league debut during Tuesday's doubleheader, Myers delivered a two-run double in a three-run seventh that broke the game open.
Maddon wasn't shy in expressing his optimism for the 22-year-old.
"I was talking about that I think in the entire camp," he said. "I just thought he ran better than I had been told, he threw better than I had been told, he was a better defender. He's a big, good athlete is what he is.
"He's the proverbial five-tool guy - maybe the six-tool with the makeup, too," Maddon added. "He's on the right path."
Coming off one of his worst outings of the season, Jeremy Hellickson (5-3) won for the third time in four starts, surrendering two runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and no walks. It was a vast improvement from Thursday, when he tied his career-high by allowing eight runs in a 10-1 loss to Kansas City.
"It was nice to actually finish a game on a good note," Hellickson said. "I'm right where I want to be. I just want to eliminate the big inning that I've been giving up. Tonight, I got out of the two jams I was in. It was good to see."
Rays pitchers retired 16 of the last 18 batters of the game, yielding one hit over the final five frames.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonny Gomes had two hits apiece for the Red Sox, who lost for the second time in five games, but still lead Baltimore by 1 1/2 games in the AL East.
"Hellickson kept us off-balance with both his curveball and his changeup and he threw enough fastballs to keep us honest," Boston manager John Farrell said. "I thought we put up some good at-bats against their guys."
Ryan Dempster (4-8) was seeking his third win in four starts, but was hit hard in the first inning before settling down. The right-hander gave up three runs on eight hits over six innings, walking two and striking out three.
The Rays scored as many runs in the first Wednesday as they did in 18 innings a day earlier.
Jennings hit his ninth homer with one out in the first, depositing Dempster's sixth pitch of the game into the seats above the Green Monster in left field. The Rays made it 2-0 when Ben Zobrist singled, moved to third on a base hit by Longoria and scored on a sacrifice fly by James Loney .
"I just made a mistake to Jennings that he hit for the home run and they got a couple of balls that fell in. Just the way it goes sometimes," Dempster said. "I just wish we were winning more of the games that I'm starting. That's all I care about, is the day I pitch that we win and were not winning those right now."
Boston cut it to 2-1 in the second when David Ortiz led off with a double to deep center and scored on an infield single by Gomes.
Longoria nearly saved a run in the fourth on a liner by Gomes, but the third baseman couldn't squeeze the ball in his outstretched glove, allowing Jarrod Saltalamacchia to trot home and tie the game.
Dempster retired seven straight before Molina singled to open the fifth and scored on a base hit by Zobrist that put the Rays back on top for good. Longoria added an RBI single off reliever Craig Breslow in the seventh that made it 4-2.
"This year's been awkward - a lot of close losses late, and that's something again that we're not normally used to," Maddon said. "We have to get better with that, and hopefully this is the kind of game that can push you in the right direction."
NOTES: Boston C David Ross is headed to Pittsburgh on Thursday to be examined by a concussion specialist. Ross is currently on the seven-day concussion DL. ... Red Sox RF Shane Victorino got the day off. ... The Red Sox on Wednesday signed their first-round draft pick, LHP Trey Ball, the seventh overall selection. ... The Rays continue their seven-game road trip Thursday when they visit Yankee Stadium for the first time this season. It will be the 2,500th game in Tampa Bay history. ... Red Sox RHP Alfredo Aceves was optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday night after earning the win in the first game of the doubleheader. ... Boston 3B Jose Iglesias went 0 for 2, ending his career-high 18-game hitting streak.