The Tampa Bay Rays got another strong outing from a starting pitcher, and this time they put together enough offense to make it stand up.
The Houston Astros hope Dallas Keuchel can pick up their scuffling lineup after he was roughed up his last time out.Tampa Bay seeks its second series victory over Houston in the span of a week Sunday at Tropicana Field.Rays starters have allowed just two earned runs over 29 innings in the club's last four games, however, Tampa Bay (30-46) split those contests. They wasted David Price's eight-inning, 12-strikeout outing in which he yielded two runs in Friday's 3-1 loss.Jake Odorizzi allowed just an infield single to Jose Altuve and two walks while striking out 10 over 7 1/3 innings Saturday, and the Rays scored their most runs in 25 games in an 8-0 victory. James Loney had two of Tampa Bay's 11 hits and three RBIs."That's the kind of game we're capable of, absolutely," manager Joe Maddon said. "We finally got the hits when we needed them and the pitching was outstanding."Houston (33-43), meanwhile, was shut out for the ninth time this season and second time in three days after Chris Archer threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings in Tampa Bay's 5-0 victory Friday.The Astros are hitting .194 with 11 extra-base hits while dropping five of six."You can't let a bad day today ruin a great tomorrow," manager Bo Porter said. "We come back (Sunday) and have an opportunity to get a split in a four-game series on the road, which is always good."Keuchel (8-4, 2.63 ERA) had won six of his previous seven starts with a 1.33 ERA before surrendering four runs, six hits and a season-high four walks in a 6-5 loss at Washington on Tuesday. He had walked six batters over his last four outings. Keuchel had also won each of his first six road starts while posting a 1.42 ERA.The left-hander threw 105 pitches Tuesday in his shortest outing since also throwing five innings in a defeat against the Angels in his first game of the year."He normally attacks the zone a little bit better," Porter said. "But he'll be fine."The Rays will be looking to draw another high pitch count from Keuchel after drawing five walks Saturday. They rank among the majors' top 10 teams, drawing a walk every 11.2 plate appearances.Keuchel struggled in two starts versus Tampa Bay in 2013, yielding eight runs over 10 innings.Fellow left-hander Erik Bedard (3-5, 4.33) gets the ball for the Rays, looking for a turnaround against his former club. He's 1-4 with a 6.11 ERA over his last six starts.Bedard threw four innings in a 7-5 loss to Baltimore on Tuesday, giving up a grand slam to Chris Davis in a five-run third. He was 4-12 with a 4.59 ERA in 32 games in 2013 for the Astros, the only club Bedard hasn't faced in his 237 career appearances.Dexter Fowler is 3 for 7 versus Bedard.Altuve is 12 for 21 in his last five games and batting .500 in his last nine overall. He also leads the majors with a .427 average against lefties.Tampa Bay also took two of three in Houston from June 13-15.
Dallas Keuchel has allowed a .069 hard-hit average against his slider this season in 89 plate appearances to end in the pitch, which is ninth among qualified starters in MLB. Evan Longoria has a .038 hard-hit average against sliders this season, which is ninth-lowest among qualified batters.
Dexter Fowler (HOU): HR (6); while he was 0-for-10 in his previous 3 games, Fowler entered the game hot since the start of June, hitting .343 with multiple hits in 9 of 18 games since June 3.