Eight months after the Phillies beat the Rays in five games to win their first World Series in 28 years, the teams open a three-game set Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.
Though Philadelphia (36-31) leads the NL East by 1 1/2 games over the New York Mets, the defending champions are mired in a six-game losing streak and are coming off a 1-8 homestand where they were swept by Toronto and Baltimore.
With a major league-best 23-9 record away from Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies may still be confident heading into a nine-game road trip. Thoughts of their World Series triumph could also provide added motivation.
“If that helps,” Manuel told the Phillies’ official Web site. “I hope they think of it. We’re still in first place and that is a good way to look at it.”
Tampa Bay (37-34), meanwhile, is fourth in the AL East, but winners of two in a row over the Mets. The Rays are 8-4 in interleague play.
“Hopefully we can get a few games,” former Phillie and current Tampa Bay designated hitter Pat Burrell(notes) told the Rays’ official Web site of facing the team with which he spent the last nine seasons. “It should be good.”
The teams split the first two games of the World Series in St. Petersburg, with Philadelphia winning 3-2 in Game 1 and the hosts earning a 4-2 victory the next night.
Howard has 12 of his 20 homers and 30 of his 54 RBIs away from Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies are 13-22. Philadelphia is batting .273 on the road, compared to .246 at home.
The Phillies, who’ve started 3-9 in interleague play for the second straight season, last lost seven in a row June 20-28, 2006.
Jamie Moyer(notes) (4-6, 6.35 ERA) allowed three runs in 6 1-3 innings against Tampa Bay in Philadelphia’s 5-4 win in Game 3. He’s 8-4 with a 2.85 ERA in 15 career regular season starts versus the Rays.
The left-hander looks to bounce back after giving up six runs and 10 hits in six innings of a 7-1 loss to Toronto on Wednesday.
The No. 1 overall pick by the Rays in 2007, Price allowed two runs in 3 1-3 innings of relief in the World Series last season. The left-hander looks to rebound from his worst start after giving up five runs and 10 hits in seven innings of a 5-3 loss at Colorado on Wednesday.
Price, though, continued to make progress in his sixth career start by striking out five without walking a batter.
“I’m headed in the right direction - body feels good, arm feels good,” Price said. “So I’m looking for positive results.”
B.J. Upton(notes) and Evan Longoria(notes) each had four hits in Tampa Bay’s 10-6 win over the Mets on Sunday. Upton is hitting .400 (16 for 40) with two homers and nine RBIs over his last nine games for the Rays, who lead the majors with 401 runs.
“When B.J. gets going, it gives guys a little more confidence,” said Longoria, who went 1 for 20 with nine strikeouts against the Phillies last October.
Tampa Bay leads 10-5 in the all-time interleague series between the teams.