DETROIT — Chris Archer's standards for himself are so lofty that he was disappointed — "obviously" — over not being able to get the final two outs of Saturday's 7-2 win over the Tigers.
But only a little bit.
Otherwise, the Rays' emerging star right-hander allowed himself some well-deserved satisfaction after a stellar 81/3-inning outing in which he held the high-octane Tigers to six hits and the two runs.
"It was my best game thus far (this season)," Archer said. "I gave up two solo home runs. I haven't looked at the film, but I'm pretty sure they were good pitches.
"That's a good-hitting team. They have a lot of power. I think any pitcher in this league would be okay with giving up two solo homers against them. So I'm not going to beat myself up over the ninth inning too much."
The Rays had plenty to be happy about. They improved to 8-2 on a seemingly ominous 11-game road trip that ends in Detroit tonight — with David Price pitching in front of ESPN's national audience — after stops in Baltimore and New York.
Overall they have won nine of their past 11 and 16 of 24 in improving to 40-50 and moving to within 81/2 games of the American League East lead, having been 15 games out less than a month ago.
"We're good," manager Joe Maddon said. "We've got good players. We're starting to play like we were capable of and thought in the beginning. It was just an awkward beginning to the season. There's plenty of time to get this done, and I really believe you can see that our guys believe that."
Archer was worthy of the headlines, but the victory was a team effort, with snazzy defense all around the field and an unexpected offensive outburst as the Rays snapped Anibal Sanchez's 32-start streak of allowing no more than four earned runs.
And that was after being no-hit into the fifth.
With one out, Logan Forsythe, continuing his impressive overall performance in the field and at the plate, got the Rays going with a solo homer over the leftfield fence. They got two more runs after that, with Ryan Hanigan, who saw 25 pitches in his first three at-bats, drawing a seven-pitch walk, rookie Kevin Kiermaier lacing the first of his two triples and Desmond Jennings delivering a single over the drawn-in infield.
They added four in a well-played sixth. After loading the bases on two singles and a walk, they got one on a sac fly by Brandon Guyer, another when Forsythe perfectly executed a first-and-third safety squeeze bunt and two on Kiermaier's second triple.
"We kind of had the feeling it was going to be a pitcher's duel the way Archer and Sanchez were throwing early on," Kiermaier said. "So once Logan hit that home run, that was a big sigh of relief for us."
Archer did his part, relying heavily on a fastball early, then mixing in his slider. As impressive as he has been in compiling a 1.71 ERA over his past 10 starts, inconsistent command of the fastball has been one of his few flaws. Saturday, that was not lacking.
"From a growth moment regarding command of his fastball, it was outstanding," Maddon said. "He was very efficient getting a lot of quick outs, primarily with his fastball."
Archer finished the eighth with a 97 mph fastball that was his 91st pitch, and Maddon gave him the chance for a third complete game. But he allowed a homer and a single to start the ninth, got a strikeout but walked Alex Avila on his 106th pitch, and Maddon summoned Grant Balfour to finish it.
"There were 25 outs I did get," Archer said, "and those are the ones I'm going to focus on."
Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Rays.