The Pirates hope their luck changes against the American League as they try to take advantage of the woeful Devil Rays in the opener of a three-game series at Tropicana Field.
Pittsburgh has lost eight of nine overall and is 1-5 in interleague play. The Devil Rays are 1-8 against the National League.
The Pirates, who have lost five straight, are a season-high 13 games below .500.
Pittsburgh got a home run from Matt Stairs in the ninth inning, but it wasn’t enough as they were swept by the Toronto Blue Jays with a 5-4 loss on Thursday. Starter Jeff Suppan allowed five runs on seven hits in 6 1-3 innings as he lost for the sixth time in seven decision.
Pittsburgh will send Kip Wells to the mound in this series opener. Wells is 2-0 with a 4.80 ERA in seven road starts. The right-hander is holding opponents to a .204 batting average, but has given up five home runs over his last 10 innings of work.
The Devil Rays are hoping to get their offense going behind starter Victor Zambrano, who is 1-2 with a 2.29 ERA in his last three starts.
Tampa Bay was only able to muster one run to back Jeremi Gonzalez in a 2-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday. It was the Devil Rays’ season-high seventh straight loss—and the fifth by two or fewer runs during that stretch.
“That big base hit has been elusive,” Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. “Sooner or later we’ve got to turn the corner and do better. And truthfully I expect that we will.”
Tampa Bay has gone 17-22 in a major league-high 39 games decided by two runs or fewer.
STANDINGS: Pirates - 6th place, 10 1/2 GB, NL Central. Devil Rays - 5th place, 14 1/2 GB, AL East.
PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Wells (2-2, 3.61 ERA). Wells has allowed 15 earned runs in his last 29 innings (4.66 ERA), spanning five starts.
DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Zambrano (2-4, 4.76 ERA). The 27-year-old right-hander lost despite allowing only two runs in seven innings of a 2-1 loss to Houston on Sunday.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Pirates - Brian Giles, .305 avg.; Reggie Sanders, 8 HRs; Randall Simon, 37 RBIs; Kenny Lofton, 43 runs and 12 SBs. Devil Rays - Rocco Baldelli, .329 avg.; Aubrey Huff, 14 HRs and 38 runs; Baldelli and Huff, 35 RBIs; Carl Crawford, 15 SBs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Pirates, 1-5; Devil Rays, 1-8.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Pirates - 3B Aramis Ramirez has hit safely in 22 of the last 23 games. … Pittsburgh has been swept four times this season … The Pirates have been outscored 26-16 in the last three games. Devil Rays - Tampa Bay has been out-homered 41-16 at home. … OF Jeff Liefer is 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts since joining the Devil Rays on Saturday. … OF Baldelli ranks fourth in the AL with 84 hits.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pirates - 16-17 on the road; Devil Rays - 12-19 at home.
INJURIES: Pirates - INF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; IF Pokey Reese (thumb), 60-day DL; RHP Mike Lincoln (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL. Devil Rays - SS Rey Ordonez (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Joe Kennedy (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Seth McClung (elbow), 60-day DL.
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