PHOENIX — The Rays extended their winning streak to four Monday with a 6-4 victory over their expansion brethren Diamondbacks, but it took some unusual circumstances and extraordinary efforts.
From starter Chris Archer, who struck out 12 but threw a season-high 115 pitches over just six innings.
From a lineup that saw five position players hitting under .200 all contribute to the attack, led by Desmond Jennings, who then declined to talk to reporters in the clubhouse about it.
And, most of all, from closer Alex Colome, who came out of the bullpen for the fourth straight day to log the save.
"Big win,'' said manager Kevin Cash, as they improved to 26-30 and can salvage a road trip that started with four straight losses.
The Rays were planning to avoid using Colome, as well as Xavier Cedeno and Erasmo Ramirez, who had both worked in three of the four games.
But they ended up turning to Cedeno, after neither Tyler Sturdevant nor Enny Romero could finish the seventh for four big outs.
They had Ramirez warming up in the eighth though didn't use him.
And then they summoned Colome for the final three outs.
"I work to get ready for every day if they need me,'' Colome said. "I want to pitch.''
Colome threw 34 pitches to get a five-out save on Friday in Minnesota, then eight in facing two batters on Saturday and nine for a 1-2-3 ninth on Sunday, for 51 total.
Even knowing Colome had said after playing catch Monday afternoon he was good to go, and that he had had five days off before Friday, Cash said it was not an easy decision to use him.
"Yes, it was difficult,'' Cash said. "Four days in a row is difficult, no doubt. But I don't think his usage was heavy. …. It's not something, we're not trying to set a trend here by any means.
"Maybe we should fly him out just so I can't use him tomorrow.''
This actually is the second time in a month that Colome has saved four games in a row, though last time there was a team off-day included. In the Rays first 18 seasons, they only had a pitcher save four straight games once, Rafael Soriano in 2010. Overall, Colome now has 16 saves in 16 chances, matching Soriano and Al Reyes (2007) for most to start a season.
After the final out of the 11-pitch outing, catcher Curt Casali made sure Colome knew he was appreciated.
"I said thanks for coming out, I know it's hard, it's not an ideal situation,'' Casali said. "And he goes, "I want to pitch, I want to pitch.'
"He's been a huge part of our team and the games that we've won because he's been lights out. And for him to come out four days in a row shows what type of person he is and what type of pitcher he is because we need him.''
Cedeno played nearly as big of a role. Having thrown 44 pitches in working three of the last four days, he was summoned after Sturdevant got two ous but put two on and Romero walked two to force in a run. Cash went with lefty Cedeno against right-hander Brandon Drury based on his experience (rather than rookie Ryan Garton) and it worked as Cedeno got the strikeout and then worked the eighth, throwing 19 total.
"Cedeno was awesome to come in there and kind of quiet what would could have really gotten loud and not been good for us,'' Cash said.
With Colome really, really off Tuesday, and Cedeno and Ramirez unlikely to see action, the Rays are moving RHP Matt Andriese, who was slated to start Friday, to the bullpen.
The offense was a big part of the story, primarily because of who it came from.
Jennings, criticized for recent lackadaisical play and making his first start since Wednesday, had the biggest day, reaching base four times with three hits, including an RBI double and a home run off high off the leftfield foul pole.
He did an on-field postgame interview with Todd Kalas on Fox Sports Sun, in which, among other things, he said he was "just trying to get on the field and get some live action.''
But with several reporters gathered at his locker in the clubhouse, Jennings, hitting .189, told a Rays PR staffer he was not talking.
Others who had also been struggling played key roles as well.
Tim Beckham, hitting .185, lashed a long and loud two-run homer to left.
Casali, hitting .186, knocked in their first run with a two-out single in the fourth.
Mikie Mahtook, hitting .159, had two hits, including a double that started the four-run fifth.
And Taylor Motter, now hitting .200, had two hits and produced the final tally of that inning with a sac fly.
"Desmond Jennings broke out, that was great to see for him,'' Cash said. "A lot of guys that had been grinding through it really showed up well.''
Archer had command of his fastball and good break on his slider, but ran his pitch count up too high.
"I wish I could have done more because our bullpen has been fantastic,'' Archer said. "What Colome has been able to endure and been able to accomplish is impressive, and Erasmo as well. X came in and made some big pitches. Ideally I would have liked to have gone a little deeper, but I had to do what I had to do.''
The game didn't start well for Archer, as he needed 29 pitches to get through a two-walk first. Then in the third he suffered the indignity of having opposing starter Robbie Ray homer off him, and his first one at that, and a walk and a Paul Goldschmidt double made it 2-0. He allowed just one more run — on a David Peralta homer — in getting through the sixth.
"Everything was clicking for me tonight,'' he said.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow @ TBTimes_Rays