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SEA@TB: Hellickson fans seven over seven solid frames

The top two teams in the American League East will open up a three-game series on Friday to battle for the division lead -- and the Yankees and Red Sox are nowhere to be seen.

The Orioles and Rays -- both 20-12 -- sit atop the division and are one game behind the Rangers for the top record in the Majors. Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson will take the mound for Tampa Bay, and left-hander Dana Eveland will make his 2012 debut for Baltimore in the series opener.

Eveland got called up from Triple-A Norfolk after Jason Hammel reported discomfort in his right knee. Hammel was scheduled to start a game in Thursday's doubleheader but was pushed back to Monday, which opened up a spot in the Orioles' rotation.

The 28-year-old Eveland has spent the majority of his career shifting between the Minors and big leagues. He made 29 starts in 2008 with the Athletics and went 9-9 with a 4.34 ERA. He was 3-2 with a 2.21 ERA in six starts with Norfolk this season.

"He had a good year in a very hitter-friendly park in Triple-A and has had some success at times in the big leagues," O's manager Buck Showalter said. "He's pitching real well down there, pitching as well as any of their starters are, so I think we're lucky to have him. We'll see if Tampa agrees with me."

Whereas the Orioles will surely be fatigued after finishing up a four-game series by splitting Thursday's doubleheader with the Rangers, the 25-year-old Hellickson will be rested.

Hellickson lasted just 3 2/3 innings against the A's on Saturday. He allowed three runs -- two earned -- on five hits and three walks while striking out two. The right-hander said on Wednesday that he couldn't wait to get back out there.

"It's not a good feeling, getting pulled in the fourth inning," Hellickson said. "It's been a long four days."

In his brief career, Hellickson has gone 4-1 with a 2.23 ERA in six appearances and five starts against the O's. But the results are dramatically different at Camden Yards, where he is 1-1 with a 5.11 ERA in three outings, including two starts.

"They're a good ballclub," Hellickson said of the O's. "It's not an easy place to pitch. I just have to do better."

Orioles: Wieters hits a snag
• Matt Wieters saw his nine-game hitting streak come to an end with an 0-for-2 effort in Game 1 of Thursday's doubleheader. Wieters, who fell one game shy of matching his career-long hitting streak, went 0-for-6 in both games combined.

• J.J. Hardy has reached safely in 15 of his last 17 games.

• Left-hander Zach Britton threw three scoreless innings in an extended spring start on Thursday. He is expected to make at least two more appearances.

"It's been a pretty cautious schedule," Showalter said. "If anything, I'm not going to say overly cautious; I just think it's a good schedule to really make sure he's right."

Rays: Pena slumping
• Carlos Pena is 1-for-15 (.067) over the past four games. He was hitless in seven of eight games before singling in the first inning of Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Yankees.

• The Rays placed first baseman/outfielder Brandon Allen on the 15-day disabled list with a right quad strain on Thursday.

"It's kind of a strain, and it's not getting better-better, so we just decided to do this and just make sure that he's well," manager Joe Maddon said.

Worth noting
• The Rays and Orioles split their 18-game season series in 2011. Baltimore outscored Tampa Bay, 71-69.

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