Archer throws first complete game in 5-0 win over Astros
Rookie righthander Chris Archer threw his first career complete game to help lift the Rays to a 5-0 win over the Astros Sunday in front of 21,180 at Tropicana Field.
For Archer, 24, it was one of his best overall performances of his young career, allowing just four hits, striking out eight and walking none for the second straight start. He threw a season-high 112 pitches, leaping into the air and pumping his fist as Desmond Jennings caught the final out.
In doing so, Archer helped the Rays (55-41) enter the All-Star break on a high, having won 14 of their last 16 and moving them into sole possession of second place in the American League East.
The Astros (33-61), meanwhile, have lost six of their last eight, and boast the worst record in baseball.
Archer didn’t need much run support, but he got a quick lead, as struggling third baseman Evan Longoria came through with an RBI double in the first inning. For Longoria, who entered Sunday batting .125 in his last 17 games, it was just his second extra-base hit since June 22. The Rays would add on a couple more in the fourth inning. Kelly Johnson led off with a single off veteran Astros lefty Erik Bedard. Catcher Jose Lobaton then bunted down the third base line, with Bedard’s wild throw to first allowing Johnson to come around and score. After a single by shortstop Yunel Escobar, Desmond Jennings brought Lobaton in from third while hitting into a double play.
Meanwhile, Archer had little trouble with the Astros, who entered with the worst record in the majors. He got in a little jam in the fifth, when Brett Wallace hit a one-out double, but he retired the next two hitters to thwart the threat.
Bedard was done after five innings, having allowed eight this and two walks. Righthander Paul Clemens took over, and immediately got tagged for two more runs in the sixth. Johnson got it started with his third single of the game, and with two outs, Desmond Jennings ripped a mammoth, two-run homer over the left-center wall, making it 5-0.
Archer settled in, and received help from his defense. Shortstop Yunel Escobar snapped his 51-game errorless streak with a miscue in the second, but came back with a nice play up the middle in the eighth on Justin Maxwell. Escobar would leave the game in the ninth with an apparent leg injury after beating out an infield single.