(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Rays try to push their winning streak to six games this evening when they open a four-game series against the Oakland Athletics at the Coliseum.
That may be easier said than done, though, as the Rays will be facing one of the best young pitchers in the league in right-hander Trevor Cahill, who comes into tonight's tilt sporting the second lowest earned run average in the American League at 2.50.
Cahill, though, had a three-start winning streak stopped his last time out, despite a terrific performance against Minnesota, as he allowed just a run and six hits in seven innings of a 2-0 loss to fall to 12-5 on the year.
The Rays also got the better of the 22-year-old hurler the last time they faced him back in April of last season when they pounded Cahill for seven runs and eight hits in just 2 2/3 frames.
Tampa enters tonight's tilt tied atop the American league East standings with the New York Yankees following a three-game sweep over the American League West-leading Texas Rangers.
The Rays completed the sweep on Wednesday, as Evan Longoria went 3-for-4 with a solo homer, two run-scoring doubles and knocked in four runs, helping Tampa to an 8-6 win at Tropicana Field.
B.J. Upton finished with two hits, including a solo shot, and stole two bases for Tampa Bay, which has won seven of nine.
"I think we all feed off each other," Upton said. "It could be anybody in the lineup. Once we start things, the other guys jump on and it kind of all filters together."
James Shields (11-11) snapped a two-start skid after working seven solid innings. The right-hander allowed two runs -- one earned -- on four hits, struck out six and walked one. Rafael Soriano retired the final two hitters in the ninth to earn his 35th save of the season.
Getting the call for Tampa will be righty Andy Sonnanstine, who will be making his third start of the season. Sonnanstine picked up the win on Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles, as he allowed three runs and three hits in five innings. He is 1-1 as a starter and is 3-1 overall on the year with a 4.10 ERA.
Sonnanstine has faced the A's seven times (five starts) and is 2-3 against them with a 6.29 ERA.
The 27-year-old righty will be facing an A's team that just took two of three from the Toronto Blue Jays, including a thrilling 5-4 win in the rubber match of their set on Wednesday.
After blowing a three-run ninth inning lead, Cliff Pennington singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to lift Oakland to just its second win in six games.
Tampa Bay has won three of its five matchups with the A's this season.
4 game series vs Rays @ Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Tampa Bay Rays
Thursday, Aug 19, 2010, 7:05 PM PDT
Andy Sonnanstine vs Trevor Cahill
Mostly clear. Winds blowing out to right field at 10-15 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 60.
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