Rays-Indians Preview

Jeremy Hellickson is already struggling for the Tampa Bay Rays as he heads into a month that is historically bad for him.

The Rays starter somehow was unbeaten despite a poor May and will take the ball in Sunday's season series finale against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.

Hellickson (2-2, 5.61 ERA) posted a 6.69 ERA in May that was baseball's sixth-worst mark. He won his lone decision in six outings last month, becoming the sixth pitcher in big-league history with an ERA that high in at least six starts to still go unbeaten in a month.

It doesn't bode well for the right-hander that he is 1-7 in nine career starts in June with a 4.56 ERA - his worst in any month. He gave up five runs over 5 1-3 innings Tuesday against baseball's lowest scoring team and did not receive a decision in a 7-6 win over Miami.

One problem for Hellickson this season is that he is stranding only 62.1 percent of baserunners for one of baseball's lowest marks. He stranded 82.7 percent of runners in 2012 to lead the majors.

Hellickson is 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA in three starts against the Indians. Numerous Cleveland hitters have poor numbers against him, including Mark Reynolds (3 for 18), Nick Swisher (2 for 11), Mike Aviles (2 for 10) and Carlos Santana (0 for 7).

The Indians are also starting a right-hander in Zach McAllister (4-4, 3.08), who has yet to allow more than three earned runs in any outing. Cleveland had won five straight of his starts before he gave up three runs and a season-high 10 hits over 5 1-3 innings in Tuesday's 8-2 defeat at Cincinnati.

McAllister is 1-1 with a 1.53 ERA in three outings against Tampa Bay, yielding four runs - two earned - over six innings April 5 in a 4-0 road loss to the Rays.

These teams have identical 30-25 records after splitting the first two of this three-game set, with Tampa Bay holding a 3-2 lead in the season series.

Indians manager Terry Francona has rotated his designated hitter throughout the season, with Santana and Reynolds getting the most of the starts there. Reynolds was out of Saturday's lineup in favor of Jason Giambi, and the move paid off as the 42-year-old Giambi hit a two-run homer and finished with three RBIs in a 5-0 victory that snapped the Rays' six-game win streak.

"I'm delirious right now,'' said Giambi, who has homered in his last three games. "I feel like Pinocchio with no strings. My last two at-bats I thought about bunting because of the bat speed that I have, but then I said, I have to run. I was done.''

James Loney went 0 for 3 for Tampa Bay after homering three times over his previous two games, including two in Friday's 9-2 victory that ended at 2:53 a.m. due to rain.

"It was a tough day to come back and play this game," manager Joe Maddon said Saturday. "We'll get a good night's sleep and come back and do well tomorrow."

Tampa Bay has won seven of 11 at Cleveland since losing 18 straight there from Sept. 29, 2005-July 23, 2010.