(SportsNetwork.com) - After making four relief appearances this season, Cesar Ramos is ready to return as a starter Sunday for the Tampa Bay Rays as they try to complete a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Ramos is taking the place of Matt Moore in the rotation. Moore went on the 15- day disabled list Tuesday with a partially torn ligament in his left elbow.
A 29-year-old lefty, Ramos will make his fourth career start and second for the Rays. It will be his first starting assignment since June 24, 2012 at Philadelphia in the nightcap of a doubleheader. He lasted 2 2/3 innings hitless innings in that contest when four Rays relievers combined to beat Cliff Lee, 7-3.
Ramos, who has faced the Reds twice in relief in his career, will essentially start Sunday on three days' rest. He worked the eighth inning against Kansas City on Wednesday.
Should Ramos struggle early, the Rays could go to Erik Bedard in a long- relief role. Bedard joined the Rays from Triple-A Durham on Saturday.
Tony Cingrani hopes to help the Reds avoid the sweep when he takes the mound. The southpaw faces an American League team for the first time in his career. It will mark his third start of the season and his first career appearance versus the Rays.
Cingrani's first two starts this season were against the Cardinals. On Monday at Busch Stadium, he threw 88 pitches through four innings before being lifted after allowing three hits and three runs in a 5-3 Cincinnati defeat.
The Rays have put the defensive clamps on the Reds in this series with a 2-1 win Friday and 1-0 triumph yesterday. On Saturday, Alex Cobb spun seven scoreless innings for Tampa Bay. Cobb (1-1) scattered four hits and fanned five to earn his first win of the season. Cobb hasn't allowed a run over his last 15 innings.
James Loney provided the game's lone run with a leadoff homer in the second inning to help the Rays win for the third time in four games.
Grant Balfour put the potential game-tying run on in the ninth, but got a game-ending double-play to nail down his fourth save of the season.
Tampa Bay has scored just nine runs over its last six games.
Alfredo Simon (1-1) was the hard-luck loser, allowing Loney's homer among five hits over eight innings. He struck out four and walked just one in the setback.
Cincinnati went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position, and is just 1-for-11 with RISP over its last two games. At 3-8, the Reds are off to their worst start since 1995 when they won the NL Central. The last time they were 3-9 was 1993 when the Reds finished 73-89.
"There are going to be times this year when we're clicking and our offense and might carry the pitching," said Reds shortstop Zack Cozart. "We want to get back to where we're all clicking because our pitching and defense have been really good, we just haven't given them a chance to win because we don't put up enough runs."
The Reds had a great chance to score in the fourth inning when Joey Votto tried to score from second on a single from Brandon Phillips. Votto was cut down at the plate with ease after Kevin Kiermaier delivered a perfect strike to catcher Ryan Hanigan.
"Kiermaier's throw today might be the star of the game. Play of the game, maybe the play of the season so far," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "He's an exceptional outfielder. He is among the best major league outfielders today and he's only played one game in the regular season."