(SportsNetwork.com) - Alex Cobb goes after his third straight win on Wednesday when the Tampa Bay Rays play the rubber match of their three-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Tropicana Field.
Cobb had won just one of his previous six decisions, before ripping off back- to-back victories. His latest win came in Detroit on Friday, as he held the Tigers to three runs and five hits over five innings to improve to 4-6 to go along with a 4.28 ERA.
"The key to it is making them put the ball into play early, try to get each guy out in three pitches or less," Cobb said. "Just getting into that groove where you're not thinking about anything pitch count-wise, you're just attacking hitters. That's what the most frustrating part of last game was. That I did feel like I could have gone six, seven, eight innings."
Cobb has faced the Royals four times and is 1-2 against them with a 5.04 ERA.
Kansas City will counter with righty Yordano Ventura, who was spectacular his last time out. Ventura pitched into the ninth inning on Friday in Cleveland and gave up just a run over 8 1/3 innings, as he improved to 6-7, while lowering his ERA to 3.07 ERA.
In fact, he is 4-1 with a 2.32 ERA over his last six road starts.
"He was unbelievable - fastball, curveball, changeup. Everything was working for him," teammate Mike Moustakas said. "He's got such electric stuff, I mean all his pitches are disgusting.
"When he's able to command and control like he did today, it just shows a lot and how much he's grown up as a pitcher."
Ventura fired six scoreless innings against the Rays earlier in the year, but did not get a decision.
Tampa bounced back from a loss in the opener on Tuesday, as Evan Longoria hit a go-ahead two-run single in the sixth inning and the Rays eked out a 4-3 win. Brandon Guyer finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and James Loney and Logan Forsythe each drove in a run for Tampa, which has won four of its last five games.
Brad Boxberger (2-1) earned the win after tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief for starter Jeremy Hellickson, who gave up just one run on six hits in 4 1/3 frames in his 2014 debut after having offseason elbow surgery.
"Way too many three-ball counts. The pitch count kind of snuck up on me a little bit," said Hellickson.
Lorenzo Cain tripled among his four hits and Salvador Perez drove in three runs for Kansas City, which has dropped three of its last four. Jason Vargas (8-4) gave up two runs on six hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings.
Kansas City has left 21 men on base in this series.
The Royals took two of three from the Rays earlier in the year.