Rays-Angels Preview

The Associated Press

Matt Moore returned to the Tampa Bay Rays' rotation to help the club in its postseason push. Now it's time for Jeremy Hellickson to do the same.

The struggling Hellickson returns from a week in the minors to start Wednesday night opposite the Los Angeles Angels' Jered Weaver in Anaheim.

Tampa Bay (76-61) snapped a five-game losing streak with a 7-1 victory Tuesday that evened this four-game set. Moore won his seventh straight decision and improved to 15-3 with 5 1-3 strong innings after missing a month on the disabled list due to left elbow soreness.

The Rays increased their lead in the race for the second AL wild card. They entered Tuesday with a two-game edge over Baltimore, and their closest competitors now are the New York Yankees - 2 1/2 games back.

Hellickson (10-8, 5.21 ERA) isn't physically hurt, but a six-start stretch in which he went 0-5 with a 9.00 ERA caused Tampa Bay to send him to the minors Aug. 27. He was officially with Single-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery during his week away from the Rays in which he didn't appear in any minor-league games.

The move came after Hellickson allowed five runs and matched the shortest start of his career with 2 2-3 innings Aug. 26 in an 11-1 loss at Kansas City.

"I wanted to keep going out there, try and give us a chance to win," Hellickson told the Rays' official website. "I just wasn't doing my job. I don't think it was a bad idea to do this. As much as I want to be out there to help this team win, it's good to take a few days off to clear my mind. It might be a good thing."

Tampa Bay had won seven starts in a row by the right-hander before losing five of the last six. Hellickson may like his chances of bouncing back Wednesday since he is 2-1 with a 2.04 ERA in three starts against the Angels.

Weaver (9-7, 3.30) has yielded one run over 14 innings in winning consecutive starts - part of a 6-2 stretch with a 2.93 ERA in nine outings since the All-Star break.

The right-hander is 4-2 with a 3.93 ERA in eight starts against the Rays.

Los Angeles (64-73) had its five-game win streak snapped Tuesday with four hits one night after finishing with 16 in an 11-2 rout in the series opener.

Angels star Mike Trout will face Hellickson for the first time. Trout is 7 for 18 with four walks and three steals in the season series, with Los Angeles winning three of five.

J.B. Shuck went 0 for 4 on Tuesday as his eight-game streak ended in which he batted .378.

Fellow rookie Wil Myers has cooled off for Tampa Bay although he doubled twice Tuesday in four at-bats to end a 2-for-31 slide.

Ben Zobrist is 3 for 7 with four RBIs in this series, and batting .391 during a 13-game streak against the Angels.

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