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Rays-Yankees Preview

Rays-Yankees Preview
The Tampa Bay Rays were hoping to bring an eight-game winning streak to Yankee Stadium. Instead, they'll have to settle for carrying the best record in baseball into their longtime house of horrors.

The Rays visit the Bronx for the first time as a first-place team after April 14 as the AL East rivals - playing different roles than they're used to - begin a two-game set Tuesday.

Tampa Bay nearly rallied to an eighth consecutive victory as Carlos Pena tied the game at 3 with a ninth-inning homer, but the Rays allowed four runs in the 10th of their 7-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Monday.

The Rays (55-33) will now try to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time since dropping a pair at the Los Angeles Angels on June 10 and 11. Since then, they are 17-5, surging to the top of a highly competitive AL East with a 2.80 team ERA over that span.

"We're getting to the point where we win six of seven on a homestand and we have a bad taste in our mouth," Rays manager Joe Maddon told his team's official Web site. "You're not going to be perfect. Nobody's perfect in this game."

Tampa Bay has finished last in the AL East in nine of its previous 10 seasons, with the Yankees winning the division nine of those 10 years. Unsurprisingly, the Rays entered this season with a 23-59 record at Yankee Stadium, a .280 winning percentage.

It's New York (47-42), however, that is now looking to mimic the Rays' run - and hoping consecutive wins over their archrivals are a good start.

They dropped the first two games of a four-game set with Boston before winning the last two, including a 5-4, 10-inning win Sunday night.

"We've been fighting the whole season, but I think the team is getting better the last two games, especially with men on base," Robinson Cano told the Yankees' official Web site. "I think if we keep doing that more often, we're going to start winning more."

Tuesday's game will feature a matchup of talented left-handers, with veteran Yankee Andy Pettitte and Tampa Bay ace Scott Kazmir each coming off subpar starts against Boston.

Pettitte (9-6, 4.22 ERA) had won four consecutive starts before getting roughed up by the Red Sox on Thursday. He allowed six runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings, only the second time he failed to get through five innings.

The other was against the Rays, who reached him for five runs in four innings of a 7-1 loss on May 12.

Kazmir (7-3, 2.63) has thrown more than 100 pitches in each of his last four starts, but failed to complete six innings in any of them. He gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings against Boston Wednesday, but didn't receive a decision in the Rays' 7-6 win.

Both pitchers have plenty of experience against their opponent. While Pettitte is 14-4 with a 3.84 ERA lifetime against Tampa Bay, he has lost three of his last four starts against them.

Despite a 3-3 record against the Yankees, Kazmir has compiled a 2.68 ERA in 10 appearances. He's gone 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA spanning 18 innings in his last three starts against New York, which he limited to three hits in six shutout innings of a 5-2 win May 15.

Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi are a combined 7-for-57 (.123) against him.

The teams have split 10 games, taking two each at Yankee Stadium in early April before the Rays won three of four in St. Petersburg in the most recent series in May.

Before Tuesday, the latest the Rays had gone to New York in first place was April 14, 2004, when they were tied with the Red Sox at 4-3.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: July 8, 2008

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