Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Posted: 10:45 a.m.
(AP) -- Tampa Bay has turned things around after a dismal start. Leading the way has been surprising Sam Fuld.
Fuld looks to extend his hot stretch when the Rays continue their four-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.
In parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Fuld never made much of an impact with 33 hits in 131 at-bats (.252). Traded to Tampa Bay (7-9) in January as part of the deal for Matt Garza, Fuld is leading the Rays with a .396 average and showing impressive range in the outfield.
He had another big game Monday, going 4-for-4 with a double and a run scored as Tampa Bay defeated Chicago (7-9) 5-0 for its sixth win in seven games following a 1-8 start.
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David Price pitched four-hit ball over eight innings and Felipe Lopez and Ben Zobrist each homered. Zobrist's home run capped a three-run first.
After scoring eight total runs during a season-opening six-game losing streak, the Rays have averaged 5.6 runs during their 6-1 surge. Fuld is 16 for 31 during that seven-game stretch.
Fuld's hot streak helped carry an offense that on Monday was without designated hitter Johnny Damon, who sat out with a bruised left ring finger. He hopes to play later this week. Center fielder B.J. Upton (rest) and first baseman Dan Johnson (sore left wrist) were also out of the lineup.
Price was too much for the slumping White Sox, who have dropped five straight while batting .199 and scoring 11 runs. They struck out 11 times Monday, including three by Alex Rios, whose average dropped to .203. Adam Dunn, batting 2 for 23 the last six games, was given the night off against the left-handed Price.
"We know we're going to hit," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I don't worry about that."
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The losing streak is Chicago's longest since an eight-game skid Sept. 14-21.
James Shields (0-1, 3.98 ERA) will look to keep the Rays rolling as he seeks his first win since Aug. 29 against Boston. The right-hander is 0-5 with a 6.19 ERA over nine starts since, three this season.
Shields, though, is coming off a second strong start in 2011. He allowed two runs and nine hits in seven innings of a 4-3, 10-inning win over Minnesota on Thursday. The Rays didn't score while he was on the mound for the second time this season.
The offense bailed him out after he struggled at Chicago on April 8, yielding five runs and eight hits, including three homers, over six innings of a 9-7 victory.
Alexei Ramirez is 6 for 15 with two homers against Shields while Mark Teahen is hitting .385 with two home runs in 26 at-bats.
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John Danks (0-1, 3.15), who opposed Shields in that April 8 start, has been in line for victories his last two games, but the White Sox bullpen has blown a save each time.
On Wednesday against Oakland, Danks allowed one run and five hits while striking out seven over eight innings, but Chicago went on to lose 7-4 in 10 innings.
In Danks' previous start against Tampa Bay, the left-hander allowed four runs and six hits while walking four over six innings.
Danks is 4-1 at Tropicana Field, losing his last start there May 29 after allowing eight runs in four innings. He had a 2.25 ERA in his previous four visits.
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