ST. PETERSBURG — Even before the Rays traded bullpen-saving David Price to the Tigers, starter Chris Archer preached the importance of staying late into games.
He accomplished that Saturday night, salvaging a six-inning start out of one that could have been much shorter in a 10-3 win over the Angels at Tropicana Field.
"That's what he's got to be able to do," manager Joe Maddon said.
Archer gave up three runs on six hits but wiggled his way out of bigger problems. He threw a wild pitch in the third to move Kole Calhoun into scoring position, but he froze one of the game's most dangerous hitters, Mike Trout, on the next pitch for the third strike.
The Angels got three runs off of Archer in the fourth but could have had more. Hank Conger's double put runners on second and third for Calhoun, but Archer struck him out.
"The strikeout to Calhoun was huge," Maddon said.
And after allowing a leadoff walk and stolen base to Trout in the fifth, Archer struck out Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton to help defuse the threat.
Archer finished with nine strikeouts — the third most in his career — and continued a trend of longer outings. He has lasted at least six innings 11 times in his past 13 starts. The Rays are 21-7 since 2013 when Archer pitches that deep and 4-13 when he doesn't.
"I'm just happy that Joe had the confidence to leave me out there as long as he did," Archer said. "One hundred (nine) pitches, six innings, not ideal, but it worked for tonight."
His offense made sure of that with one of its best outings of the year in front of an announced crowd of 23,656. The Rays (54-56) roughed up starter C.J. Wilson in his return from the DL and forced the Angels to use four pitchers in the first four innings.
Evan Longoria blasted a two-run home run — his third since July 1 —to ignite an offense that scored at least 10 runs for the sixth time this year. Led by Ben Zobrist's second four-hit game this homestand, the Rays had 16 hits — their most since July 6.
And one night after coming away empty from a bases loaded, no-out situation for the 1-2-3 hitters, the Rays capitalized this time with Brandon Guyer knocking a two-run single to center to break open the game in the second. That was enough to secure Archer's seventh win of the year and provide a bounce-back from last week's loss to Boston.
"I felt like I was in total control of my mind, my body, my delivery," Archer said. "Didn't execute some pitches.
"But tonight was one of those nights where the team gave me plenty of wiggle room."
With their 12th win in their past 15 games, the Rays moved to five games out of the second wild-card spot and 7½ behind Baltimore in the AL East. They also secured their first winning homestand since late May and can win their ninth series out of the past 10 with a victory today.
Contact Matt Baker at [email protected]. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.