Although David Price is tied for the AL lead in victories, it's been a little more than six weeks since the Tampa Bay Rays' young ace has won consecutive starts.
Facing the Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field might give Price an opportunity to accomplish that feat.
Price will try to become the AL's first 14-game winner by sending the Tigers to a 10th straight road defeat in Thursday's four-game series finale.
A 10-2 start to 2010 helped Price (13-5, 2.90 ERA) earn his first start in an All-Star game, but the former No. 1 overall draft pick has alternated losses with wins in his last six outings, posting a 4.10 ERA over that span.
After getting tagged for seven runs in a loss to the New York Yankees on July 18, he allowed three runs in the first two innings Saturday at Cleveland but settled down to give up one hit over the following five-plus frames in a 6-3 win.
"He's one of the elite guys in the league," Indians manager Manny Acta told the Rays' official website. "We scored three early runs and thought maybe we could get more, but he put up five zeroes."
Price, who won his only previous start against the Tigers on Aug. 29, will face a team suffering through its longest road losing streak in five years.
Tampa Bay won its third straight over the Tigers 7-4 on Wednesday night. Evan Longoria snapped out of an 0-for-18 slump with three hits, including his third homer in 36 games.
With a loss Thursday, Detroit (51-49) would match its 10-game slide away from home that ended the 2005 season. Losers of 12 of 15 overall, the Tigers dropped a club-record 13 in a row on the road in 1902 - three years before Ty Cobb played his first game with the franchise.
Struggling right-hander Rick Porcello (4-8, 5.55) will try to help end both his club's skid and a personal four-game losing streak that dates to May 29. He won his only career start against the Rays (62-38) last Aug. 28, allowing one run and four hits over 5 2-3 innings.
That outing was part of Porcello's 14-9 rookie season, but he's endured a sophomore slump in 2010, including a stint of nearly a month in the minors. Porcello has limited opponents to four runs over 14 innings in two starts since being recalled, but has an 0-1 record to show for it amid scant run support.
He gave up three runs over six innings of Saturday's 3-2 home defeat to Toronto.
Third baseman Jhonny Peralta may make his Tigers debut after the club acquired him from Cleveland on Wednesday.
"I was trying to do something to help our ballclub and do something to stay in this," general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "We've got a lot of young players. Right now, it gives us another veteran in our lineup."
Peralta, 0 for 7 in his career against Price, is slated to fill in for the injured Brandon Inge (broken left hand). The Tigers are also without second baseman Carlos Guillen (strained right calf) and outfielder Magglio Ordonez (broken right ankle).
Rays center fielder B.J. Upton, meanwhile, is expected to sit out until sometime next weekend after spraining his left ankle Tuesday night. The status of his replacement, Ben Zobrist, is unknown after he left with lower back stiffness after the third inning Wednesday.
Tampa Bay has never swept the Tigers in a four-game home series.