While the San Diego Padres look to continue their hot streak, starter Edinson Volquez will look to do the same on Friday.
The Padres will be making their third trip to St. Petersburg in the past seven seasons riding a four-game win streak. The Padres are coming off a three-game sweep of the Marlins, and have won six of their last seven, while the Rays split their four-game series with the Blue Jays.
Volquez started the season on a rough note, but is 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA in his last four starts. He allowed only one run on four hits against the D-backs on Sunday, improving to 3-3 with a 5.50 ERA. That's a drastic change for Volquez, who began the season losing his first three starts and compiling an 11.68 ERA.
"Starting pitching is so critical to a team's success," Padres manager Bud Black said after Volquez's last start. "We've seen the early-count strikes from Volky and the secondary pitches for strikes. You put it all together and you have three wins and a lot of zeros."
Meanwhile, Alex Cobb will make his first career start against the Padres. To prepare, Cobb says he's spoken with pitching coach Jim Hickey to find swing patterns and also gone to the video room to look at the Padres hitters.
"This is a team that we never even see on TV much or anything like that, so it's going to be a completely new list of names for me and a new approach," Cobb said.
Off to a great start, Cobb has been one of the Rays' most dependable starters, going 4-2 with a 2.79 ERA.
In his previous start, Cobb pitched 6 2/3 innings against the Rockies but allowed three runs -- all via home runs -- on eight hits and a walk.
"I'm happy with the consistency so far, for the most part. My main goal from the start was to go deep, and I feel like I've done that most of the games," Cobb said. "There's been one or two games I feel like I could've gone deeper and I didn't, but for the most part, I feel like I've put together a solid outing every time out."
Padres: Richard getting work in
• Clayton Richard is on the disabled list with an intestinal virus, but is still keeping his arm in shape.
Richard threw long toss before Wednesday's game then threw some more in the bullpen.
• Cameron Maybin is still a week to 10 days away from hitting in the cage.
Maybin has been troubled by his wrist in each of the past two seasons and has not ruled out the possibility of surgery.
Rays: Gomes, Ramos excited to face Padres
• Relievers Cesar Ramos and Brandon Gomes will see a lot of familiar faces on Friday.
That's because both came up through the Padres Minor League system before being traded to Tampa Bay in December 2010 alongside Cole Figueroa and Adam Russell for former Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett and cash.
"It'll be fun to throw against quite a few guys," Ramos said Thursday. "We all signed together. There's a bunch of guys from the 2005 Draft. We all came up together. They're still there, so it'll be fun to see them but also to compete against them.
"I played every year with [Chase] Headley, [Will] Venable, [Nick] Hundley. I threw to Hundley all the way up. It'll be fun, especially seeing Headley, like the player he's become now. Jeez. It's pretty cool to see him. I saw him struggle and do really well, then now, last year -- MVP-type year. It's pretty cool. Just good to see them again."
• Volquez has one career start against the Rays. He allowed three earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.
• Kelly Johnson has faced Volquez more than any other of his Rays teammates and is 4-for-12 against him in his career.
• Rays third baseman Evan Longoria has reached base safely in 33 of 34 games this season and in 47 of 48 games dating back to Sept. 19, 2012.
William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.