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Major League Baseball
Preview
Tampa Bay at Baltimore
When: 7:05 PM ET, Thursday, August 28, 2014
Where: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland

Evan Longoria is trying to make the best out of a disappointing season, going 9-for-26 with seven RBIs on the first six games of the road trip for the Tampa Bay Rays. Longoria, who has knocked in 14 runs in his last 13 contests, tries to stay hot as the visiting Rays vie for a split of a four-game series with the first-place Baltimore Orioles on Thursday. The former All-Star recorded three hits in Tampa Bay’s 3-1 victory on Wednesday to raise his batting average to just .255.

While the Rays are struggling to stay alive in the playoff chase, the Orioles lead the second-place New York Yankees by six games in the American League East. Baltimore lost four of its last six contests, but received a good sign as slumping slugger Chris Davis homered for the second time in three games Wednesday. Bud Norris goes for his fourth victory in August for the Orioles and will oppose Jeremy Hellickson, who is 9-4 in his career against Baltimore.

TV: 7:05 p.m. ET; Sun Sports (Tampa Bay), MASN (Baltimore)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays RH Jeremy Hellickson (1-2, 2.61 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Bud Norris (11-8, 3.91)

Hellickson has yielded two or fewer runs in five of his seven starts since returning from elbow surgery, including his last outing against Toronto when he gave up two in 6 1/3 innings. The Iowa native has limited opponents to a .224 batting average. Adam Jones is 14-for-42 with four homers against Hellickson, who owns a 3.25 ERA in 17 appearances (15 starts) versus the Orioles.

Norris saw his three-game winning streak end last Saturday, allowing four runs in two innings against the Chicago Cubs in a start shortened by a rain delay. The 29-year-old California native is 8-3 since June 1, but has a 5.12 ERA in four August starts. James Loney is 9-for-18 in his career versus Norris, who is 1-2 in five appearances (four starts) with a 3.96 ERA against Tampa Bay.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Orioles are 32-20 against AL East opponents, winning 10 of 15 games versus Tampa Bay to clinch the season series.

2. Tampa Bay LHP Jake McGee has converted 15 of 16 save opportunities and boasts 80 strikeouts in 62 innings.

3. Baltimore 1B-OF Steve Pearce is 14-for-41 with four homers and five RBIs during a career-best 10-game hitting streak.

PREDICTION: Orioles 5, Rays 3
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Tampa Bay 65-68 W1 29-36 36-32 26-27 12-14 17-17 10-10
Baltimore 75-56 L1 36-27 39-29 32-20 13-16 21-12 9-8
Last Meeting
Tampa Bay Baltimore
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
8/27/14 TB 3 BAL 1 .257 0 .593 .067 1 .263
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Tampa Bay E. Longoria .263 15 .702
Baltimore S. Pearce .366 15 1.250
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Tampa Bay M. Joyce 2 8 7
Baltimore S. Pearce 4 8 8
Pitching ERA Avg K
Tampa Bay 4.43 .244 122
Baltimore 3.02 .251 92
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Tampa Bay J. Loney .284 142 .705
Baltimore A. Jones .285 153 .788
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Tampa Bay E. Longoria 16 67 74
Baltimore N. Cruz 34 71 88
Pitching ERA Avg K
Tampa Bay 3.46 .250 1196
Baltimore 3.59 .256 927