TORONTO -- Manager Joe Maddon had Ben Zobrist hit in the two-hole on Wednesday against the Blue Jays.
Zobrist, who started in right field, entered the game batting .216, but had an on-base percentage of .370 with eight walks in 11 games.
Maddon said he wanted to bat Zobrist ahead of Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria in the Rays' lineup.
"I wanted to get [Zobrist] in front of the other guys," Maddon said before Wednesday's game at Rogers Centre. "Zo is always a high on-base percentage guy and that's the reason to get him in front of Carlos and Longo. The integrity of Longo and Carlos together, 2-3, is pretty much still there."
It paid immediate dividends. Zobrist hit his second homer of the season in the first inning with Desmond Jennings aboard after a leadoff single.
Maddon has liked the at-bats by the Rays, but the hits have not been coming with runners in scoring position. Tampa Bay entered Wednesday's game batting .198 as a team with runners in scoring position.
"We've not been good at that since Spring Training, actually." Maddon said. "We had a hard time in camp driving in those runs. It'll happen. ... We've had a lot of good at-bats, but we're just not producing at the right time. That's just the cycle of this game."
Hellickson looking to rebound against Jays
TORONTO -- Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson does not feel he pitched poorly in his Saturday start at Boston.
"I think I can mix it up a little bit better," Hellickson said before Wednesday night's game against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
The 25-year-old will make his third career start against the Blue Jays on Thursday. He is 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA against them.
He allowed five runs on three home runs in five innings to the Red Sox in a no-decision on Saturday, a 13-5 loss for the Rays.
"I felt like I threw well in the last game, there was just that one pitch in the fifth that cost me," Hellickson said, referring to a two-run homer by David Ortiz that tied the game.
The five runs matched Hellickson's career high. He allowed five runs against the Orioles last June 10 at Baltimore.
"I've got to mix it up a little better, throw more strikes," he said. "I've just go attack better. We're going after guys but just missing. You don't want to leave balls too much over the plate. At the same time you want to be around the zone and make the pitches you want."
Hellickson also felt he got away from using his changeup early in the game.
"It wasn't there and I went away from it a way too early, I think," he said. "The changeup is obviously one of my better pitches and I need to throw that a little bit more than I did last game. I threw a lot more cutters too. I felt like I threw what I wanted to throw, but I didn't execute."
Upton appears close to making season debut
TORONTO -- Center fielder B.J. Upton, on the disabled list with back soreness, will likely rejoin the Rays on Friday when they come home to Tropicana Field to play the Minnesota Twins.
However, manager Joe Maddon did not rule out the possibility of Upton returning for Thursday's series finale against the Blue Jays.
Upton was scheduled to play at Double-A Montgomery on Tuesday, but the game was postponed with a doubleheader scheduled for Wednesday.
"I guess he's going to play a game, DH a game." Maddon said. "He's still on pace to get here. He could be here [Thursday], he could be here the next day. I'm not quite sure yet. I'm still waiting to hear from the office to see what everybody thinks.
"It's not really going to kick it back too far."
Upton was 2-for-4 with an RBI for Montgomery on Monday.
Upton was placed on the disabled list on April 4 retroactive to March 26. He has been out since March 14 after an outfield collision with Desmond Jennings.
Larry Millson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.