The 24-year-old Iowa native, who debuted with four wins in 10 appearances last season, picked up win No. 11 of his first full year with eight innings of scoreless six-hit ball in an 8-0 defeat of Seattle in his last start on Aug. 20.
He’d previously gone two starts without a victory while allowing 14 hits and five runs in 11 2/3 innings against Kansas City and the New York Yankees.
Hellickson has split two career meetings with the Tigers, surrendering just two runs on seven hits in 13 1/3 innings with 11 strikeouts.
The Rays are 5-5 in his last 10 starts.
Losers in the initial two games of the series, the Rays got on the board Wednesday when Sean Rodriguez beat out a potential force play at second base and allowed Ben Zobrist to score the winning run in the 10th inning in a 3-2 victory.
Alex Avila went deep for the AL Central-leading Tigers, who had won five in a row.
Detroit starts 27-year-old Californian Doug Fister, who’ll appear for the fifth time with his new team after beginning the year with 21 starts for the Seattle Mariners.
The 6-foot-8, 210-pounder debuted with the Tigers with a 5-4 defeat of Texas on Aug. 3, then got a no-decision at Cleveland and a loss at Baltimore before rallying with a 10-1 win over Cleveland on Aug. 20.
After posting a 3.33 earned run average with the Mariners in 146 innings, he’s allowed 14 runs on 30 hits in 21 2/3 innings with Detroit.
He’s 1-2 in four career meetings with Tampa Bay.
The Tigers will be without first baseman Miguel Cabrera this afternoon, as he was placed on paternity leave on Thursday.