Jeremy Hellickson, Rays open series with White Sox

10:17 AM, Jul 5, 2013   |    comments
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson
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(Sports Network) - Jeremy Hellickson goes after a fourth straight win on Friday when the Tampa Bay Rays open a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox at Tropicana Field.

Hellickson tied a franchise record with five wins in a month when he beat the Tigers on Sunday to close out his June slate. The former AL Rookie of the Year held the Tigers to one run and six hits in six innings to run his overall mark to 7-3, while lowering his ERA to 4.90.

With his fifth win in a calendar month, Hellickson joined Matt Moore, who turned the trick in April, David Price (June, 2012) and Scott Kazmir (May, 2008). He allowed a career-high eight runs on June 13 against the Royals, but excluding that start, he went 5-0 with a 1.80 ERA in June.

Overall, though, he was 5-1 in June with a 3.94 ERA.

"I'm happy with where I'm at for the last month," Hellickson said. "It was a struggle the month before that. But I'm feeling pretty good right now.

However, his remarkable run could come to a close on Friday, as he is 0-2 in two starts versus the White Sox with a 5.40 ERA.

Hellickson will try to keep the Rays rolling after a series win over the lowly Houston Astros. Tampa has won eight of 11 and trails the American League East- leading Boston Red Sox by 6 1/2 games. The Rays will also play their next 10 games at home.

"A lot of good things are happening for us right now, but we've got to do it on the field," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Theory needs to be reality, and then all of a sudden it's a good thing. So we're trying to make theory and reality come together."

While Hellickson won five games in June, Chicago starter Dylan Axelrod failed to get a decision in his five June starts. Against the Cleveland Indians on Saturday Axelrod surrendered three runs and five hits with three walks over six innings of his team's 4-3 loss.

"All year, it's been frustrating," said Axelrod. "We've lost a lot of close games. It's been real close to being, who knows, we could be the other way around if the little breaks were going our way."

Axelrod, who has pitched to a 5.87 ERA in two games (1 start) against the Rays, is 3-4 with a 4.57 ERA this season.

Chicago enters this series rolling a bit after taking two of three from the Baltimore Orioles. In Thursday's rubber match, Adam Dunn's one-out homer in the bottom of the ninth inning carried the White Sox to a 3-2 win.

Dunn, whose error in the eighth inning allowed Baltimore to tie the game, finished 3-for-4 and drove in two runs for the White Sox, who had dropped five in a row prior to winning the set.

Addison Reed (4-1) tossed a scoreless top of the ninth for the win.

"We're not going to give up and not give our all when we're out there. We're going to keep playing. our pitching has been real good and our hitting is real good right now. We just keep playing," Reed said.

Chicago has split four matchups with the Rays this season.

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