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TB@NYY: Hellickson beats Yanks with pitching, defense

For much of the season, the Rays were doing the chasing in the American League East race, while the D-backs were the ones being hunted atop the National League West.

Those roles have reversed recently, thanks to an incredible 21-4 run in July by Tampa Bay and an up-and-down month for Arizona (13-14).

On Wednesday afternoon, the two clubs meet in the finale of a two-game set at Tropicana Field, with the Rays looking to hold their division lead and the D-backs hoping to start their climb back up to the top.

Jeremy Hellickson (10-3, 4.48 ERA) gets the ball for the red-hot Rays. The right-hander, who has won his last six decisions, has never faced the D-backs in his four-year career.

"You just have to watch a little video," Hellickson said before Roberto Hernandez tossed a complete game in Tuesday's 5-2 Rays victory. "We'll talk to [pitching coach Jim] Hickey today. I'll watch Roberto and see how he goes about it."

Opposite Hellickson will be D-backs left-hander Wade Miley, who has been about as hot as the team he'll be facing. In 33 1/3 innings this month, Miley (7-8, 3.86 ERA) has posted a 1.89 ERA. He's coming off 7 2/3 innings of five-hit ball in a win over the Cubs on Thursday.

Miley is faced with the task of stopping a Rays offense that has owned left-handed pitching. Tampa Bay has won 11 of its last 12 when the opposition starts a southpaw, and the Rays lead the Majors with a 23-11 mark against lefty starters.

D-backs: Gibby pleased with current roster
As rumors swirl around the D-backs -- specifically pitching-oriented trade rumors -- manager Kirk Gibson said he likes the current state of his roster.

Still, he's open to any possible improvements.

"I like our 25 guys," Gibson said. "I think right now our starting pitching isn't really set, our bullpen is in somewhat flux, we've got too many outfielders."

Rays: Hopeful about Crain
The Rays added reliever Jesse Crain on Monday in a trade with the White Sox, and the club is hopeful the right-hander will be able to overcome the right-shoulder strain that landed him on the 15-day disabled list.

"We have a lot of faith in our medical staff here," manager Joe Maddon said. "I consider Ron Porterfield the best trainer in Major League Baseball. Once our guys get their hands on [Crain], we feel very optimistic that we can get him back."

Crain is 2-3 with a 0.74 ERA this season in 38 appearances.

Worth noting
• Arizona's Cliff Pennington and Jason Kubel have hit Hellickson hard in the past. Pennington is 3-for-8 with a pair of walks, a homer and two RBIs, and Kubel is 4-for-8 with two homers and three RBIs.

• The Rays have won 10 consecutive series, marking a franchise record.

• With Tuesday's loss, the D-backs fell below .500 (3-4) in Interleague Play this season.

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