Rays-Phillies Preview

The Tampa Bay Rays want to show their road woes are a thing of the past. Their offensive struggles are ongoing.

The Rays look to take advantage of another matchup with the major league-worst Philadelphia Phillies and get to face a left-hander as they try to win a series on the road for the first time in a month Wednesday.

They would prefer getting that done behind a breakout performance from a lineup which has batted .191 and averaged 2.4 runs over the past nine games. Evan Longoria is hitless in 15 straight at-bats and cleanup man James Loney is in a 1-for-18 slump.

A homer by starting pitcher Nathan Karns was the only scoring Tuesday in a 1-0 victory that evened this series. Monday's 5-3 defeat was Tampa Bay's 10th in 12 road games after having a major league-best 21-11 road record through June 20.

A road series win for the Rays (48-48) before heading home seems very possible considering they're facing rookie southpaw Adam Morgan. They have won a club-record 11 consecutive games against left-handed starters, including victories over All-Stars Chris Sale and Dallas Keuchel.

Longoria is batting .444 against lefties since June 5.

Steven Souza Jr. has an .866 OPS against left-handers and .661 against righties. Souza, who leads Tampa Bay with 15 homers, came off the disabled list Tuesday (lacerated pinky) but struck out in all four at-bats. His 112 strikeouts are fourth-most in the majors.

Despite the offensive struggles, Tampa Bay has a 5-3 record since July 10 partly due to the bullpen's 1.01 ERA after four scoreless innings Tuesday.

"They've been pitching good all year and we really trust them," manager Kevin Cash said.

Morgan (1-2, 3.91 ERA) has pitched well since being called up last month, allowing two runs or fewer in three of four starts, and it appears his spot in the rotation is secure after starter David Buchanan was sent to the minors Monday.

Before that happened, Morgan was unsure if his job was safe. Jerome Williams comes off the disabled list this week, Aaron Harang is nearing a return and highly touted rookie Aaron Nola debuted Tuesday with six innings of one-run ball.

"I can't really worry about what everybody else is saying or thinking because it takes away from my game," Morgan said Friday after yielding two runs and four hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-3 victory over Miami.

He'll be opposed by Jake Odorizzi (5-6, 2.80), who looks to rebound from his worst performance of 2015. He held Toronto hitless for three innings Friday but recorded only four more outs, serving up two homers and getting tagged for six runs in a 6-2 loss.

Six days earlier, Odorizzi threw 5 2-3 scoreless innings to beat Houston in his return after missing a month with oblique tightness. However, he walked three batters that day and a season-high five on Friday.

"I felt good. My arm felt great, really fresh," Odorizzi said. "Just couldn't find a good release point early. The whole game I just kind of struggled with my stuff."

The Phillies (33-63) had been 4-0 since the All-Star break before losing Tuesday, getting shut out for the 11th time. Only San Diego has been blanked more (13).

Phillies rookie Maikel Franco could return after not starting for the first time since May 15 with a sore elbow. He's second on the team with 10 homers and 35 RBIs.

"For me, I'm ready to play," Franco told MLB's official website. "I know it's sore a little bit, but I can play like that."

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