June 01, 2014

The Tampa Bay Rays have hit the ball out of the park more than any other team in the majors, but that hasn't translated to victories lately with their pitching staff struggling.

That includes Jake Odorizzi, who has given back most of those homers over his last two starts.

He'll face the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night looking to help the visiting Rays avoid a season high-tying fourth straight defeat.

Tampa Bay (20-22) hasn't hit more home runs in its 17-plus year history than the 199 it finished with in 2009, good for sixth in the majors. It is on pace to surpass that mark with a baseball-most 65 so far after Brandon Guyer and Taylor Motter went deep in Monday's series opener.

The Rays lost 7-6, though, after the Marlins (23-21) scored twice in the eighth to take the lead against the Tampa bullpen, which has allowed at least one run in nine of the last 10. The entire staff has a 7.09 ERA over the last four.

The third consecutive defeat came without center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who will miss eight to 10 weeks after having surgery Tuesday for a broken left hand suffered while diving for a ball in Saturday's loss to Detroit.

''Tough loss,'' manager Kevin Cash said. ''We had some exciting hits but fell a little short there at the end.''

The Rays homered three times in Odorizzi's last start, but he gave up two after surrendering three in a loss to Oakland on May 13. The right-hander also walked a season-high four but came away with a 6-3 victory over Toronto on Wednesday while going five innings.

Odorizzi (1-2, 3.81 ERA) allowed three homers over his first seven starts combined.

The Marlins have gone deep only once off Odorizzi in his three starts against them. He allowed only an unearned run and four hits while striking out seven through seven innings of a 4-1 victory the last time he faced them on Oct. 1.

Marcell Ozuna and Miguel Rojas each went 3 for 4 and Ozuna hit his ninth homer in Monday's win after Miami had dropped four of its previous five. Ichiro had four hits, including an RBI single in the eighth, and is batting .417 in 34 games this season.

The 42-year-old is 10 for 13 over his last three, bringing him 40 hits shy of reaching 3,000 during his MLB tenure after beginning his career in Japan.

''We shouldn't even talk about his age,'' manager Don Mattingly said. ''For anybody, the way he's swinging the bat is kind of amazing. He's fun to watch.''

Tom Koehler takes the mound in this one looking to improve his control. Koehler (2-4, 4.71) has a 1.83 ERA over his last three starts after giving up eight runs to Milwaukee in the shortest outing of his career May 1, but he's walked five in back-to-back outings.

He allowed three runs in seven innings of a 4-2 loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday. All of those runs were scored in the third after the Marlins jumped out to a 2-0 advantage in the first.

"It wasn't enough," Koehler said. "I had a chance early in the game to shut them down. Too many pitches early on. When you walk that many guys and throw that many pitches, your defense gets on their heels, and your team kind of gets into a lull. It's hard to have a lot of energy after that."

The right-hander walked four the last time he faced the Rays in 2014.

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