While Gil Meche had nothing to show for his efforts despite limiting the Baltimore Orioles to one run in 7 1-3 innings in a loss Thursday, Brian Bannister ended Kansas City's seven-game losing streak Friday in a 4-1 victory with a strong outing of his own. He struck out six in eight innings, allowing only one run and two hits.
"He did what we needed, desperately. He threw strikes, and really wasn't in trouble the whole game," Royals manager Buddy Bell said.
Bannister's eight innings matched the longest outing by a Royals starter this season, also accomplished by Meche and Jorge De La Rosa. Kansas City's starters had a 10.91 ERA over 31 1-3 innings pitched in the six games prior to Meche's start.
Odalis Perez (2-5, 5.61 ERA) will try to further the momentum for the Royals (20-35), who have won seven of their last nine road games. He looks to bounce back from his worst start of the season on Sunday, when he allowed a season-high six runs and nine hits in just 5 2-3 innings of a 7-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
The left-hander, who is winless in his last six starts, had allowed three or fewer runs or fewer in five of his previous six starts, while pitching six innings or more in each of those outings.
Perez is 1-1 with a 7.84 ERA in two career starts against Tampa Bay, but has not faced them since July 15, 2001, when he allowed seven runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 9-1 loss while with the Atlanta Braves.
The Devil Rays' two hits on Friday were a season low. The team stranded seven runners, and the offense was unable to respond after starter Scott Kazmir put Tampa Bay in an early 3-0 hole in the second inning.
"We really just didn't come out to play," Kazmir said. "Not to take anything away from Bannister. He pitched great, but we're better than that. I think tomorrow we need to come out and really show it."
Jackson did not receive a decision in 2006 while making all but one of his 23 appearances as a reliever in his first season in the American League. But the 23-year-old is coming off arguably his best outing of the season after striking out a career-high nine and allowing three runs and eight hits in six innings against the Detroit Tigers on Monday.
Jackson did not get a decision in Tampa's 6-5 win, but it was the first time the Devil Rays won a game he started. This will be Jackson's first appearance against the Royals.