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Archer at his best in Rays' win over Padres

ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Chris Archer wanted to talk about the early lead he was handed and the defense behind him. But his work on the mound was a big part of Wednesday's 2-0 win over the Padres.

Archer worked impressively into the eighth, allowing only four singles and a walk while striking out nine to push his AL-leading total to 186.

"Really like the way Arch pitched, he was outstanding," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Arch, he was on (Wednesday). A lot of swing-and-misses, the slider was good. He should feel pretty good about that outing. …

"He got to 3-2 counts on a couple guys and made some big pitches. … It's a lineup that comes in that has really only seen him on video, and there's not a ton of history there. So anytime that happens, it's generally advantage Arch."

Though still leading the majors with 16 losses, Archer, like rotation mates Jake Odorizzi and Drew Smyly, has been markedly better of late, going 3-4 with a 3.06 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break. His overall ERA is down to 4.18, best since after his opening day start.

"I felt good (Wednesday), but it was also nice to have the guys making great plays," Archer said.

POWER BALL: INF Brad Miller continued his power show, hitting his 25th homer overall, eighth of August and 19th since June 17, matching Minnesota's Brian Dozier for most in the majors over that stretch.

"I think for the most part I'm picking the right pitches to swing at," Miller said, "and when you do, you can't miss them because you might only get one per at-bat."

MR. RAY: 3B Evan Longoria played in his 1,236th game, surpassing Carl Crawford as the all-time franchise leader. Longoria already was the Rays leader in home runs (232), RBIs (780), doubles (292), extra-base hits (540), total bases (2,292), slugging percentage (.492) and service time (8 years, 135 days).

NO THRILL: Former Rays OF Wil Myers' return to the Trop as a Padres All-Star did not go too well, as he was 1-for-12 in the series with eight strikeouts, including his final seven plate appearances. "I have been absolutely awful," Myers said. "I've been not just bad, but terrible these last two weeks, so it's something I've got to turn around."

WHITLEY A BISCUIT: RHP Chase Whitley (Tommy John surgery) completed a successful six-start rehab stint — 1-0, 0.86, nine hits, 24 Ks in 21 innings — but today is being activated off the DL and optioned to Double A.

Cash said the move was made to allow Whitley — who is from Alabama, thus Montgomery rather than Triple-A Durham — to log innings, with the potential for a September return. (And by calling him up in less than the 20 days they void, thus save, the option on his contract.)

"We just didn't have the innings right now," Cash said. "Could not have been more impressed how he threw the ball in his rehab. You just don't see many guys come back from surgery and go out and have the type of results he had. We've got to get his innings built up going into next year. He's part of the big picture and part of our plans moving forward, without a doubt."

REHAB REPORT: Cash said the reports on RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) were "really good" from his Tuesday start, and he will return to the Trop to throw a bullpen then "most likely" make one more rehab appearance. … LHP Enny Romero (back strain) makes his first rehab appearance tonight for advanced Class A Charlotte. … OF/DH Oswaldo Arcia (right elbow strain) went 1-for-2 with a walk in his eighth game for the Stone Crabs.

MISCELLANY: RHP Alex Colome got the final four outs for his 28th save, first since Aug. 6. … The announced crowd of 10,251 was second smallest of the season. … The Rays finished interleague play 10-10, their first nonlosing season since 2010.

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) tips his cap after being relieved in the eighth inning of the game between the San Diego Padres and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) tips his cap after being relieved in the eighth inning of the game between the San Diego Padres and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016.

Archer at his best in Rays' win over Padres 08/17/16 [Last modified: Thursday, August 18, 2016 7:20am]
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