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TEX@TB: Hellickson hurls six strong in no-decision

Tampa Bay relied on a pair of rookies in the first two games of a three-day set at Baltimore, but ended up losing both.

The club is hoping that sophomore Jeremy Hellickson can right the ship against the Orioles at Camden Yards in Thursday's matinee.

The Rays need to take the last game in the mid-week series to get back to within two games of the Orioles in the AL East and Wild Card races. Another loss would extend the gap between the two clubs to four games.

Hellickson is coming off a pair of solid starts, but lost one and picked up a no-decision in the other because of a lack of run support after allowing two or fewer runs in both over six innings.

In the more recent of the two outings, the Rays ended up defeating the Rangers in 11 innings, but Hellickson was in there for just six of them and couldn't earn the win. He allowed just a single run on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

"As long we win, that's all I really care about," Hellickson said. "You like to have [wins], but they don't mean much. As long as we win, that's the main thing. ... Keep our team in the game and give us a chance to win at the end of the game. That's all that really matters."

Baltimore counters with Wei-Yin Chen, who has lost back-to-back starts, both against the Yankees. Last time out, the lefty gave up seven runs on six hits, including three homers, with a walk over 4 2/3 innings.

Chen has made three starts already against the Rays this season, going 1-2 and allowing a combined eight runs in 19 1/3 innings.

Rays: Pena back at first base
• The 2012 campaign has been far from what slugger Carlos Pena expected, batting just .190 with 17 home runs after signing a one-year deal with Tampa Bay.

Throughout the year, the 34-year-old has had to deal with a heavy shift against him that defended his tendency to pull the ball to the right side. But after a Sunday that saw him hit two opposite-field singles away from the shift, Pena was back in the lineup Wednesday.

"The last few days or last week or so, I've been trying to get back to being myself, or what I call being myself," Pena said. "To go back to the simplest form of me that I can remember, and that's what I've been trying to do. That's me right there, hitting a couple of balls the other way, letting the ball get deep in the zone and trusting my hands and trusting my eyes."

Pena didn't fare very well on Thursday, going 0-for-3 with a walk and strikeout.

Orioles: Hammel to get MRI on Thursday
• Baltimore starter Jason Hammel was well on his way to a win against the Rays on Tuesday, but a right knee injury ended his day after just 3 2/3 innings with just a homer and a walk against him.

He was examined by Dr. John Wilckens after the outing, and Hammel was encouraged when he said the knee didn't swell up overnight.

Hammel, who's already missed two months from an arthroscopic surgery on the same knee, will undergo an MRI on Thursday before the team reevaluates him from there.

"As Dr. Wilckens said, the initial look at it, same thing that [head trainer] Richie [Bancells] and them saw last night. I think the medical term is 'unremarkable,'" manager Buck Showalter said. "But that's just the early blush. So, I don't think we will really know anything until we get the MRI back tomorrow."

Worth noting
• Tampa Bay outfielder Desmond Jennings is expected to be back in the lineup for Thursday's game after missing four games with a stiff lower back.

• Injured outfielder Nick Markakis, who underwent left thumb surgery Tuesday, was back in the Orioles' clubhouse Wednesday and hopes to return in 3-4 weeks if Baltimore makes the postseason. Comments