Kazmir looks to bounce back from a rough start and help the Rays change their sagging fortunes Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the slumping Athletics.
Tampa Bay (6-10) received a strong effort from starter James Shields on Thursday, but mustered just four hits in a 1-0 defeat at Seattle, where they dropped two of three to open this trip.
Third baseman Evan Longoria’s average dropped to .386 after going 0-for-4. He hit .304 (7-for-23) with two homers and five RBIs in six games against the A’s last season as a rookie.
The loss was the seventh in the last nine contests for the defending AL champions, who had appeared ready to break out after a 9-3 win Wednesday.
A weekend set in Oakland could help turn things around. The Rays went 6-3 versus the Athletics in 2008, including a 4-2 mark at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
The A’s (5-9), meanwhile, return home after dropping the final four contests on a five-game road trip against a pair of other clubs from the tough AL East - Toronto and the New York Yankees.
“It’s always nice to see how you stack up against the better teams,” A’s manager Bob Geren told the team’s official Web site. “And (the Rays) are right up there, no doubt about it.”
Facing Oakland could help Kazmir (2-1, 5.40 ERA) bounce back from his latest outing.
The left-hander, who is 6-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 11 starts against the A’s, allowed six runs and five hits while walking six in four innings of an 8-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Saturday.
“My arm felt really good,” said Kazmir, who started the game by throwing 10 straight balls. “I should have stayed within myself like I did the previous two starts. It’s one of those outings that you just want to forget about and move on.”
The Rays will get their first look at Oakland rookie Trevor Cahill (0-1, 2.60).
In his third major league start, the 21-year-old right-hander allowed two runs and five hits while walking five in 5 1-3 innings of Saturday’s 4-2, 12-inning loss at Toronto.
“He had one bad inning but, other than that, he was fantastic,” Geren said of Cahill. “Early on he was throwing nasty sinkers. You really don’t know what it is, it’s moving so much. I liked seeing that.”
Holliday is 5-for-14 in his last three games. He is 11-for-25 with two home runs and nine RBIs in six career games against Tampa Bay, including 2-for-2 with a homer versus Kazmir.