The Tampa Bay Rays' slump includes a pair of losses to the red-hot Los Angeles Angels, but they've performed well in recent visits to Anaheim.
The Rays will also have the only pitcher to beat the Angels in the past 11 days, Chris Archer, starting in Monday night's series opener.
Tampa Bay (75-60) suffered its seventh loss in eight games and fourth in a row Sunday, 5-1 in Oakland. Percentage points ahead of Boston in the AL East on Aug. 24, the Rays have fallen 5 1/2 games back in that race and are three games ahead of Baltimore for the AL's final wild card berth.
A struggling offense carries much of the blame. Tampa Bay has batted .217 - including .191 with runners in scoring position - while producing 17 runs in its last eight games.
"We'll get through this. We'll be fine," manager Joe Maddon said. "In a lot of these moments the right guys have been up in RBI situations. It just didn't work out. We're struggling with runners in scoring position and I keep believing it will happen. You just have to fight your way through it, that's all. It's all about the guys you planned to get you here and you stay with them."
Tampa Bay scored a combined nine runs while splitting the first two games of last week's series against Los Angeles but managed three hits in losing Thursday's finale 2-0.
Archer (8-5, 2.81 ERA) was credited with the win in Wednesday's 4-1 victory, allowing one run over seven innings in his first matchup with the Angels (63-72). He'll next try to lead Tampa Bay to its 14th victory in 16 games in Anaheim.
Archer would appear to have a good chance to aid that attempt as he's 3-0 with a 1.52 ERA in his last five road starts.
Los Angeles has lost four straight in Anaheim and has one win in its last 10 games there, but the club is returning home from a stellar road trip.
The pitching staff posted a 2.03 ERA on that 8-1 trek and gave up four hits in Sunday's 5-3 victory over Milwaukee, the Angels' fourth in a row.
"Our guys are playing hard and really getting after it every day," manager Mike Scioscia said.
While Los Angeles' staff has shined lately, Garrett Richards (4-6, 4.16) was hardly at his best while pitching opposite Archer on Wednesday. He gave up four runs in 3 1-3 innings, his shortest start of the season.
The right-hander had pitched 7 1-3 innings in his prior outing, a 2-0 win in Seattle on Aug. 23.
"It was just an off night," Richards said. "I just didn't have it from the beginning. Arm felt good. Body felt good. I just wasn't there tonight. I'm not going to take this as a step back. I'm just going to move forward from it."
J.B. Shuck is batting .387 during a seven-game hit streak and went 5 for 13 during last week's series against Tampa Bay. He had two hits off Archer.
Yunel Escobar is batting .389 in 21 career games against Los Angeles, his best against any opponent, and is 15 for 35 (.429) during a 10-game hit streak versus the Angels.
Ben Zobrist is batting .385 during an 11-game hit streak against Los Angeles and had two hits off Richards on Wednesday.