(SportsNetwork.com) - Erik Bedard tries to secure a third straight victory on Thursday night as the Tampa Bay Rays begin a four-game series with the streaking Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Bedard was winless in his first four appearances of the campaign, but has been excellent in winning back-to-back starts. He found the win column for the first time with a positive decision on May 4 over the hosting New York Yankees, giving up one run over six innings.
The 35-year-old lefty followed up by beating Cleveland 7-1 at home on Saturday, allowing just one hit and walking three over six scoreless innings. That moved Bedard to 2-1 on the season with a 3.38 earned run average.
"I'm always a slow starter so the first couple were rough, but after that you just get in the groove of things and throw strikes," Bedard said.
Bedard is 4-5 with a 4.45 ERA in 10 previous meetings with the Angels.
Tampa Bay as a club will also look to secure a third straight victory, taking the final two meetings of a three-game series with Seattle. The back-to-back wins come on the heels of a 1-6 stretch.
Jake Odorizzi fired six innings of one-hit ball in a 2-0 win on Wednesday, but the victory did feature an early exit for second baseman Ben Zobrist.
Zobrist left in the fifth inning after dislocating his left thumb on an attempted steal of second base. A trip to the disabled list seems likely.
"We're getting different opinions. I think a lot of it has to do with how sore he is tomorrow; how swollen and sore," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Zobrist is hitting .260 with three homers and nine RBI in 40 games on the season and was replaced on Wednesday by Sean Rodriguez.
The Angels come in having won five of their last six and swept a quick two- game set with the Philadelphia Phillies by claiming Wednesday's meeting 3-0.
Albert Pujols doubled and scored a pair of runs, while Raul Ibanez, Efren Navarro and Erick Aybar all drove in a run for the Angels.
Garrett Richards spun seven scoreless innings, giving up just five hits and no walks with eight strikeouts.
"He knows what he needs to do," catcher Hank Conger said of Richards' ability to work out of jams. "I think the game overall has kind of slowed down for him."
Los Angeles is hoping things slow down at home for left-hander Tyler Skaggs, who enters tonight's start 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in four outings this season at Angel Stadium. He is 3-1 overall on the year with a 4.14 ERA.
The 22-year-old Skaggs struggled in a loss to visiting Texas on May 4, allowing six runs over just 2 2/3 innings. He then bounced back to win a 5-3 decision at Toronto on Saturday, going eight-plus innings and getting charged with three runs -- two earned -- on four hits without a walk.
"Tyler is really coming into his own, you can really see the maturation process," catcher Chris Iannetta said of his batterymate. "He just keeps getting better and hopefully he just keeps learning how to pitch and learning how to execute."
Skaggs will face the Rays for the first time.
After going just 1-9 versus Tampa Bay in 2013, the Angels held a slight 4-3 edge in last year's season series, splitting four games in Anaheim.