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Friday, June 1st (All times eastern)

Baltimore Orioles (29-22) at Tampa Bay Rays (29-22), 7:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Baltimore - Wei-Yin Chen (4-1, 3.31) Tampa Bay - David Price (6-3, 2.71)

(Sports Network) - First place in the American League East will be on the line this evening when the surprising Baltimore Orioles open a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

The Orioles have endured 14 straight losing seasons and have dropped five in a row, but come into tonight's tilt tied with the Rays for the top spot in the division at 29-22. These teams met at Camden Yards three weeks ago in a similar situation and the Orioles escaped with two wins.

However, if Baltimore is going to repeat that feat it will need to do so without Nick Markakis, who is expected to be placed on the disabled list and will undergo surgery on a hamate fracture of his right wrist. He is expected to miss 3-to-4 weeks.

"If you had told me that was what it was going to be, I would have signed up for it in blood," manager Buck Showalter said. "It's not that bad."

The Orioles' offense has sputtered over the course of their current slide, which included a three-game sweep at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays, as they have managed just 14 runs in the five losses and have fanned a total of 49 times to up their major-league lead to 430 in that category.

Tonight, though, they turn to Taiwanese lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who is 4-1 with a 3.31 ERA. Chen did not get a decision on Saturday against Kansas City, but he pitched well, surrendering two runs and six hits in six innings of a 4-3 loss.

Chen has never faced the Rays.

Tampa, meanwhile, also comes in on a bit of a slide, having dropped three in a row to the Chicago White Sox, including a 4-3 loss in Wednesday's finale.

Tonight, though, the Rays have a terrific chance of getting back on track behind lefty David Price, who has averaged better than seven innings per outing over his last seven starts and has posted a 2.28 ERA in that span.

Price was terrific in Boston on Saturday, but did not get a decision, despite giving up just one run in seven innings. He is 6-3 on the year with a 2.71 ERA.

"I've been able to throw pretty much all my pitches for strikes right now," he said. "We've been able to get ahead, get some early outs, things like that. [Catcher] Jose [Molina] and I have been on the same page, and we've got it going pretty good."

In nine career starts against Baltimore, Price is 4-2 with a 2.90 ERA.

06/01 10:44:46 ET