Rays-Blue Jays Preview

The Associated Press

It took nearly a month for the Tampa Bay Rays to win five road games, but they're on the verge of winning that many in less than a week as part of a hot stretch.

Tampa Bay seeks an 11th victory in 14 contests as Jeremy Hellickson opposes the Toronto Blue Jays' Mark Buehrle in a matchup of struggling starters Wednesday.

The Rays (24-21) didn't win their fifth road game until May 3, but they've won four of five on a trip that ends with this contest after beating Toronto 4-3 on Tuesday.

Tampa Bay, which began its current 10-3 surge with a 10-4 home win over the Blue Jays on May 8, got solo homers from Desmond Jennings and Kelly Johnson in its latest game.

Evan Longoria went 2 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to 15. He's batting .400 with three homers and 14 RBIs during the run, which began when he hit a grand slam off Buehrle in an 8-7 loss May 6.

The third baseman is batting .512 with 16 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak versus Toronto.

Buehrle (1-3, 6.33 ERA) gave up seven runs in six innings against the Rays earlier this month. He's 5-4 with a 5.13 ERA in his last 14 starts versus Tampa Bay, including a loss in the 2008 postseason while with the Chicago White Sox.

The left-hander hasn't won since beating the White Sox on April 15, going 0-3 with a 6.68 ERA in his last five starts. He gave up five runs in six innings of a 5-0 loss to the New York Yankees on Friday.

"I can't really pinpoint (my command) from where it was in previous starts," Buehrle told the team's official website. "I haven't changed anything. I go out there and do what I need to do in between starts to get ready for the next one."

Hellickson (2-2, 5.82) opposed Buehrle earlier in the month, giving up three runs - including a two-run homer to Colby Rasmus - and walking four in five innings. Unfortunately, that's his best outing in a five-start stretch in which he's gone 1-1 with a 7.71 ERA.

The right-hander won Friday despite allowing eight runs and 10 hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 12-10 victory over Baltimore. It was the most earned runs given up in a victory since the Yankees' Andy Pettitte also allowed eight in an 11-10 win over the Orioles on Sept. 29, 2007.

"It's probably my ugliest win," said Hellickson, 3-2 with a 3.19 ERA in seven career starts versus Toronto.

The Blue Jays (18-27) have dropped three of four following their season-best four-game winning streak, totaling five runs in the defeats. Rasmus went 2 for 4 on Tuesday with a homer - his first since hitting one in back-to-back games versus the Rays on May 6 and 7.

Jose Bautista, who went hitless in nine at-bats over his previous three contests, was 2 for 3 with an RBI single Tuesday and has batted .400 in his last eight versus the Rays.

Toronto has lost seven of the last 10 home matchups with Tampa Bay.

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