American League Preview from The Sports Network

Saturday, June 2nd (All times eastern)

Baltimore Orioles (29-23) at Tampa Bay Rays (30-22), 4:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Baltimore - Brian Matusz (4-5, 4.82) Tampa Bay - Jeremy Hellickson (4-1, 2.83)

(Sports Network) - The battle for first place in the American League East continues today as the Baltimore Orioles try to bounce back in the second bout of a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

The Orioles have endured 14 straight losing seasons and dropped their sixth in a row in Friday 5-0 loss that dropped them a game behind the Rays for first place. These teams met at Camden Yards three weeks ago under similar circumstances and the Orioles escaped with two wins.

Baltimore's offense struggled to get anything going in the series opener without its right fielder Nick Markakis, who was recently placed on the 15-day disabled list.

"We can't let it snowball," center fielder Adam Jones said of the team's skid, during which the offense has batted .228 and scored just 14 runs. "We, as in all 25, we need to play better. And that's pretty simple."

The offense, which was shut out for the first time in 2012, has not been the only facet of the Orioles that has been struggling. The Orioles' starting pitching has been less than spectacular, with an 8.06 ERA in their last five starts.

"We're going to have to start doing some things we did to get to this point to be competitive," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We've just got to get out a little bit better with our start, pitching-wise."

Showalter hopes his young left-hander Brian Matusz can help his O's get back on track. Matusz has held opposing lineups to three runs or less in six of his last seven outings and gone 4-2 over that span. The southpaw's ERA sits at 4.82 after he gave up three earned runs on seven hits to the Royals on Sunday.

Tampa scored all five of its runs in the bottom of the opening inning last night and David Price (7-3) protected the lead for 7 1/3 innings. The Rays' 5-6-7 hitters -- Luke Scott, Sean Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui -- were responsible for the five RBI in the impactful first inning.

The win was much needed for Tampa, which had lost three in a row going into the divisional matchup.

Price lowered his ERA to 2.44 during the course of the game. Tonight the Rays will hope Jeremy Hellickson can match Price's effort. Hellickson has been very impressive this season with a 2.83 ERA. The right-hander went 7 2/3 innings and gave up three runs on seven hits for a no-decision in Tampa's 4-3 win over Boston on Sunday.

Hellickson is 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA against the O's at home.

"We have to try to go out there, get ahead, and ... get early outs. They're a pretty aggressive team, for the most part," Hellickson said. "They've had a pretty good offense the last three years, they're just putting together the rest of the pieces now."

06/02 10:38:28 ET