ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Wade Miley couldn't get a grip on his sinker because of baseballs that didn't feel properly rubbed down. He nearly lost his grip on the game twice when he couldn't command the strike zone.
But Miley was able to overcome both prickly scenarios and a pair of potentially game-changing rallies on Wednesday as the Arizona Diamondbacks momentarily slowed the rolling Tampa Bay Rays 7-0 at Tropicana Field.
Miley (8-8) allowed just two hits in 6 1/3 innings as he won for the fourth time in five starts, but was nearly undone by five walks.
Trailing 4-0, Tampa Bay threatened in the fourth when Wil Myers singled with one out and Ben Zobrist sent him to third with a double. But Miley retired Sean Rodriguez on a shallow fly and struck out Ryan Roberts.
"Kind of erratic a little bit. Get ahead of a couple guys, behind a couple guys, but I was able to make a pretty good pitch when I need to; so it kind of got me out of some jams," Miley said.
The Rays mustered one final uprising to chase Miley in the seventh, loading the bases on two walks and an error, but Heath Bell entered to strike out Desmond Jennings and Evan Longoria to end the inning. Tampa Bay stranded nine runners and was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
"He's been on a pretty good roll for us," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "He seems to keep things under control in those situations, makes his pitches."
Tampa Bay (64-44), which produced a 21-5 record in July to claim the American League East lead, had a run of 10 straight series wins was snapped. Arizona improved to 55-52 in ending a three-game slide and splitting the two-game series.
Arizona took a 2-0 lead in the first inning after a controversial call at first base extended the inning. Martin Prado started the rally with a one-out double before Jeremy Hellickson hit Paul Goldschmidt with a pitch. Eric Chavez struck out and Hellickson nearly eluded trouble on an Aaron Hill chopper to short, but Phil Cuzzi ruled that Yunel Escobar's throw arrived late to first base.
Cody Ross, who went 3-for-5 banged the next pitch to left for a 2-0 lead.
"It would have been nice if he called him out, but it was still a 0-0 ballgame after that," Hellickson said. "I've got to make a pitch to the next batter and get out of that."
The Diamondbacks doubled the lead in the fourth when Chavez followed a walk to Goldschmidt with his ninth homer of the season.
"They kept the pressure on. We kept adding on," Gibson said.
In allowing four runs on seven hits in just 4 1/3 innings, Hellickson (10-4) failed to provide the quality starting pitching performance to which the Rays had been accustomed. David Price, Matt Moore, Hellickson and Chris Archer had gone at least six innings 24 times and posted a 1.83 ERA during the span. It was the first time a Rays starter hadn't lasted five innings since June 22. Tampa Bay had won Hellickson's last seven starts.
"Just not really as sharp as he has been recently," conceded Rays manager Joe Maddon. "The play at first base kind of put a little dent in us but nevertheless, was not really sharp."
Arizona took a 5-0 lead in the seventh on three straight singles, two off Kyle Farnsworth and a run-scoring liner by Chavez, who had three RBIs, against Jake McGee. Parra had an RBI single in the eighth and Goldschmidt hit his 24th homer of the season in the ninth inning.
NOTES: Moore (14-3, 3.41) was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday because of a sore elbow. An MRI revealed no structural damage and the team expects him to be ready in about two weeks. Moore experienced discomfort while throwing changeups in his last start and again while playing catch. ... The Rays recalled Ryan Roberts, who started as 3B as Evan Longoria played DH. ... The Diamondbacks traded RH Ian Kennedy (3-3, 5.23) to San Diego on Wednesday. Padres GM Josh Byrnes had also traded for Kennedy in 2009 when held the same post at Detroit. Arizona received LH Joe Thatcher, minor league RH Matt Stites and a draft pick. ... Arizona DH Eric Chavez has hit two-run homers in consecutive games against Tampa Bay. ... Myers extended his hitting streak to 12 games.