Rays-Mariners Preview

The Associated Press

In a Tampa Bay rotation led by David Price and James Shields, it might be Matt Moore who is currently throwing the ball best of all.

The left-hander tries to win a fourth consecutive start and help the AL wild card-leading Rays extend their season-high winning streak to eight games Tuesday night against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

Moore (9-7, 3.73 ERA), who is 4-1 with 1.47 ERA since the All-Star break, has allowed one run and 12 hits and struck out 18 over 17 2-3 innings during his three-game winning streak. He gave up that one run and two hits in six innings of a 7-1 win over Toronto on Thursday.

"Obviously I'm extremely pleased with where I've come from the beginning of the season,'' said the 23-year-old Moore, who was 5-6 with a 4.42 ERA in 17 starts prior to the break. "After not putting together too many quality starts, now I'm getting a little more hungry for the eighth or ninth inning, just to see what those are like.''

Moore's only blemish over his last five starts came in a 2-1 home loss to Seattle on July 22 when he gave up two runs in eight innings. He's split two career starts against the Mariners, allowing three runs over 13 innings.

Tampa Bay (63-52) has a 2.11 staff ERA while batting .311 and averaging 5.9 runs during its seven-game winning streak. Alex Cobb threw seven strong innings, B.J. Upton hit a two-run homer and Ben Zobrist added three hits in Monday's series opener as the Rays also extended their road winning streak to a season-high six with a 4-1 victory over the Mariners.

Tampa Bay has not won eight in a row overall since stringing together 12 straight victories June 9-22, 2004.

"We've got out work cut out for us, but we're going to try to keep this roll going," said Zobrist, who is hitting .441 (15 for 34) in his last 10 games.

The Rays' latest victory snapped a seven-game home winning streak for Seattle (53-64), which averaged 5.3 runs during that stretch. Tampa Bay has won six of eight in the season series.

Kyle Seager, who had two of the Mariners' five hits Monday, is 12 for 26 (.462) in his last seven games. He's 1 for 5 against Moore.

Kevin Millwood (4-10, 4.38) looks to avoid a third straight losing start when he takes the mound for the Mariners on Tuesday. The right-hander has allowed 11 runs in 10 innings over his last two outings - both on the road. He gave up seven in four innings of Wednesday's 9-2 loss at Baltimore.

"No fun to stink," Millwood said.

The veteran may benefit from a return home, where he is 2-2 with a 2.27 ERA in his last seven starts. He gave up a run over 6 1-3 innings in his most recent outing at Safeco, a 4-3 win over Kansas City on July 28.

Millwood fell to 3-4 with a 5.10 ERA in nine career starts against the Rays after he yielded four runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-3 loss at Tampa Bay on May 3.