The Tampa Bay Rays returned home with the AL East lead.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are trying to climb back into the top spot in the NL West.
The surging Rays open their second-half home schedule Tuesday against the Diamondbacks trying to tie their franchise record for wins in a single month.
Tampa Bay (63-43) made the most of its chance to grab the division lead Monday, beating Boston 2-1 in a makeup game from Thursday for its fourth win in five games. The Rays have set a club mark with 20 wins in July and have two chances to match the team record set in August 2008 with a 21-7 mark.
After trailing the Red Sox by 2 1/2 games at the All-Star break, they have won 22 of 26 to overtake them by one-half game. Rays starters improved to 18-3 with a 2.17 ERA during that run after David Price threw 7 1-3 innings of one-run ball Monday.
However, Tuesday's pitcher Roberto Hernandez (5-11, 4.92 ERA) has yielded at least three runs in each of his last nine outings.
The right-hander, tied with Toronto's R.A. Dickey for the second-most losses in the AL, could be on his way to the bullpen with Joe Maddon contemplating using a four-man rotation of Price, Chris Archer , Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson starting later this week.
Hernandez, though, can't shoulder all the blame for his recent struggles. His run-support average is a team-worst 2.89 since June 16, and he's 2-6 with a 4.98 ERA in that stretch.
"I think that's called bad luck," catcher Jose Molina told the Rays' official website after Hernandez gave up three runs in five innings in last Tuesday's 6-2 loss at Boston."... It's a shame that we can't perform the way we know we're capable of when he's pitching. That's pretty much wasting an outing for that pitcher."
The Diamondbacks (54-51) did that Sunday, finishing with three hits and going 0 for 5 with runners scoring position to waste eight strong innings from Patrick Corbin in a 1-0 loss to San Diego.
Arizona has dropped 2 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the West lead after heading into the break leading by that margin.
"We haven't played our best baseball, we know that," Corbin told the Diamondbacks' official website. "I don't know why, but we're trying to figure it out. Hopefully, we can go over there and get some wins."
The Diamondbacks, though, open a stretch of 18 of 21 against teams with winning records.
They'll open their six-game trip with Kennedy (3-7, 5.22) getting his 10th chance to record win No. 50. The right-hander, riding the longest winless stretch of his career, avoided a fifth consecutive loss Wednesday when Arizona rallied from six down before falling 7-6 in 12 innings to the Chicago Cubs .
"It's all about pitch execution," manager Kirk Gibson said. "He started out pretty good, but then he made some mistakes - they hammered them."
Rays rookie Wil Myers has been doing that to opposing pitchers, batting .463 with four homers and 12 RBIs in a 10-game hitting streak.
Jason Kubel , who was scratched Sunday with a sore back, has faced Hernandez more than any other Diamondback, going 14 for 38 (.368) with three homers and three doubles.
|July 26, 2013||Aaron Hill||Day-to-Day||Hamstring tightness|
|July 09, 2013||Eric Chavez||Day-to-Day||Stiff right hip|
|July 01, 2013||Trevor Cahill||15-Day DL||Right hip contusion|
|June 28, 2013||Willie Bloomquist||15-Day DL||Left hand contusion|
|June 10, 2013||Matt Reynolds||15-Day DL||Strained left elbow|
|May 31, 2013||Brandon McCarthy||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|June 28, 2013||Evan Longoria||Day-to-Day||Plantar fasciitis, left foot|
|June 16, 2013||Alex Cobb||15-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 16, 2013||David Price||15-Day DL||Left triceps strain|
|May 08, 2013||Brandon Gomes||60-Day DL||Strained right lat|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Wil Myers must be thinking this is easy - or least fun.
The Tampa Bay Rays improved to 28-9 since the rookie outfielder was called up on June 18 with a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.
"It's been a lot of fun," said Myers, who contributed a fine running catch, two walks and a single that extended his hitting streak to 11 games. "We're doing everything we need to do. We're pitching well, we're hitting well, we're getting timely hits, and our bullpen's coming in and shutting the door."
The bullpen wasn't needed Tuesday night. Roberto Hernandez came within one out of a shutout, and Yunel Escobar and Ben Zobrist drove in two runs each for the Rays, who have won 21 of 25 games this month.
Hernandez (6-11) opened the game by hitting Gerardo Parra with a pitch and giving up a single to Aaron Hill . He then retired 22 of the next 25 batters he faced before Parra singled leading off the ninth. Eric Chavez ended Hernandez's shutout bid with a two-out home run off the right-field foul pole.
Chavez's ninth home run was one of only five hits off Hernandez, who struck out six and walked one in his first complete game of the season. It was the seventh complete game thrown by the Rays this month, the most by any team in a calendar month since the Philadelphia Phillies had seven in 1999.
"The only trouble he had was the two-out homer in the ninth inning," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "Otherwise he was pretty clean."
The veteran right-hander is the closest the Rays have had to a hard-luck pitcher during their charge to the top of the AL East. He is 2-5 in his last eight starts.
"Today I controlled, threw strikes, kept the ball down, made a lot of ground balls," Hernandez said. "Whenever I go to the mound, I never think about what happened (previously). I think about today."
And that's the way it's been almost every day since Myers arrived.
"They've thrown the ball well for a month now," said Myers, who is hitting .331. "We feel like we're going to be in every single game, which gives us a lot of confidence to play."
Zobrist and James Loney drove in runs in the first inning off Arizona starter Ian Kennedy , and Escobar made it 3-0 with his eighth home run in the fourth inning.
Making his 10th straight unsuccessful attempt for his 50th career wins, Kennedy gave up six hits and three runs while striking out seven in five innings. He has not won since June 1.
"A lot of balls were elevated. ... These guys are very aggressive when you get behind them, and they stung us on them," said Arizona manager Kirk Gibson . "He's got to pitch better."
Hill had two of Arizona's four hits, but was doubled up after each of them.
With one game left in July, the Rays' current 21-4 record ranks as the best July since the 1941 New York Yankees went 25-4 in the month Joe Dimaggio's 56-game hitting streak ended.
NOTES: The game was delayed 20 minutes in the second inning when some lights went out as a result of a lightning strike at a nearby power substation. ... Rays RHP Alex Cobb threw 50 pitches in a simulated game Tuesday and is scheduled to pitch three innings Saturday for Port Charlotte of the Class-A Florida State League in a rehab start. Cobb has not pitched for the Rays since sustaining a concussion when he was hit by a line drive on June 15. ... Hill is 19-for-44 (.442) in his last 12 interleague games.