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Howell looks to lead Devil Rays to rare road wining streak

Sep 28, 2006 - 1:27 PM Tampa Bay (61-97) at Cleveland (74-84) 7:05 pm EDT

CLEVELAND (Ticker) - J.P. Howell is trying to avoid being on the team with the worst record in the major leagues for a second consecutive season.

Seeking a second consecutive road victory for the first time since June, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays send Howell to the mound in Thursday's opener of a four-game series with the Cleveland Indians.

The Devil Rays broke a seven-game road skid with an 11-0 rout in Wednesday's finale of a two-game series at Boston. It was just their third win in 32 games away from Tropicana Field since closing June with back-to-back road wins against Florida and Washington.

Tampa Bay also posted a convincing shutout victory in the last game started by Howell (1-3, 5.30 ERA), who allowed just three hits in seven innings of an 8-0 win against the New York Yankees on Saturday. It was the 23-year-old lefthander's first win since September 26, when he was with Kansas City.

The Devil Rays are two games ahead of the Royals, who own the worst record in baseball at 59-99. Kansas City also was a major league-worst 56-106 in 2005.

The Indians look to win a third straight meeting with the Devil Rays behind Paul Byrd (9-9, 4.87), who has gone 0-3 with a 5.73 ERA in his last four starts. Byrd has a lifetime mark of 0-1 with a 5.87 ERA in four starts against Tampa Bay.

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