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TB@BOS: Moore holds Sox to two hits in first shutout

The West Coast hasn't been very kind to the Rays. They began a 10-game road trip by getting swept in a three-game series against the A's and then took an 11-2 loss on Monday to the Angels.

That's been a tough blow to their hopes of winning the American League East, where they now sit 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox. The Rays are still two games ahead of the Orioles for the second AL Wild Card spot, with the rival Yankees 2 1/2 back.

Matt Moore's return to the starting rotation on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium could be a shot in the arm for a Rays team desperately in need of a win.

"I'm very eager to get back out there. I think a month-plus is a lot longer than I initially thought it was going to be," said Moore, who had been on the disabled list since July 29 with left elbow soreness. "So I'm just excited to get back out there and give us a shot to win a game. ...

"It feels like it's been a while. This is the first time I've ever had to sit out and watch like this. Getting to the field early every day, seeing games but not be able to participate makes a month seem much longer."

Struggling without the left-hander, the Rays have gone just 13-18 in his absence, which is the fifth-worst record in the AL during that span.

Meanwhile, the Angels have been thriving over their past 10 games. Before their win over the Rays on Monday, they went 8-1 on a three-city road trip.

"I think what's exciting and what we've been waiting for is they way we've controlled the game on the defensive end, starting with our pitching staff," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's fueled our turnaround and it's really an important component in what we need to do. It's been great to see it come together."

Left-hander Jason Vargas is set to take on the Rays for the second time in a week. He's really begun to find a rhythm in his last few contests, allowing just one run in his last 17 1/3 innings.

Against the Rays on Thursday, Vargas was spectacular, tossing seven shutout innings at Tropicana Field for his second straight win and first scoreless outing since May 19.

Rays: Hellickson rejoins team
Jeremy Hellickson, who was optioned to Class A Charlotte on Aug. 27, is expected to be activated by the Rays on Tuesday.

Hellickson, who could slide back into the rotation as early as Wednesday, was in the Rays' clubhouse on Monday.

"It wasn't very much fun, to say the least," said Hellickson.

He is 10-8 on the season with a 5.21 ERA, but from June 2 to July 26, he went 8-1 with a 3.17 ERA.

Angels: Gutierrez nearing return
While reliever Juan Gutierrez has not pitched since Aug. 24 because of bicep inflammation, the Angels right-hander expects to be available soon.

"I've been throwing," he said. "I threw a bullpen two days ago and felt good. I don't feel confident to throw 100 percent yet -- that's why I haven't pitched in a game -- but I'm close."

Scioscia agreed with Gutierrez's timetable for his return.

"He's day to day," Scioscia said. "We'll see where it goes, but right now It's day to day."

Worth noting
• Of the Angels' 72 losses this season, 24 have been by one run.

• While the Rays are 9-16 since Aug. 4, they are 61-43 since May 8, which is the best record in the AL.

• Moore is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA in three career starts against the Angels.

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