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Rays waste Chris Archer's strong game

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) tips his cap as he comes out of the game in the seventh inning of the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field on Sunday, June 8, 2014.

WILL VRAGOVIC | TIMES

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) tips his cap as he comes out of the game in the seventh inning of the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field on Sunday, June 8, 2014.

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' ninth-inning collapse Sunday spoiled one of the best performances of RHP Chris Archer's season.

He threw 6⅓ shutout innings, allowing five hits while striking out two.

"Archer, that young man is pretty special," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Archer said the key was his fastball command. After averaging three walks over his previous seven starts, he walked one Sunday. Fifty-eight of his 90 pitches were strikes.

Archer hasn't allowed a run in three of his past five starts — and allowed a total of three in the other two. Although he wants to continue to improve his changeup and slider, Archer said he has learned to trust his abilities more in his first full season in the majors.

"Today I knew I was facing the second-best pitcher in baseball (Felix Hernandez), behind David Price, so I knew I had to bring it," Archer said.

Archer got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth by snagging a comebacker and watching LF Matt Joyce track down a Robinson Cano fly ball at the warning track.

In the seventh, with Cole Gillespie on second and one out, manager Joe Maddon replaced Archer with LHP Jake McGee, not wanting to risk contact. McGee struck out Willie Bloomquist. "Did not want to tempt fate there," Maddon said. "Jake was ready."

Jennings at the Trop: CF Desmond Jennings started as the leadoff hitter for the second game in a row but only the seventh time this season. Maddon said the goal is to put Jennings in a position to spark a comeback with his blend of speed and power. Jennings entered the series 2-for-21 with eight strikeouts when batting first. He's 2-for-7 with a walk and a stolen base over the past two games.

Price weighs in: LHP David Price has been part of the team's recent struggles with no wins in his past four starts. He called the Rays' streak of 12 losses in their past 13 games one of the toughest stretches he has been a part of. After allowing five runs in back-to-back starts, Price has given up three total in his past two games — both losses. "I feel like even when somebody's struggling, the other part — offense or defense or pitching — it picks up the other one," Price said. "That just hasn't been the case thus far this year."

Medical matters: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (elbow) said he felt fine Sunday, a day after pitching three innings in a rehab start for the Class A Stone Crabs. If his bullpen session goes well today, he'll likely make two more rehab starts and could rejoin the Rays on June 27 for a doubleheader in Baltimore. C Ryan Hanigan (hamstring) is scheduled to make a rehab start at designated hitter today with the goal of returning to the Rays on Wednesday. OF Brandon Guyer (thumb) is expected to have his cast removed today. If X-rays show his broken left thumb has healed, he will begin rehab.

Draft breeze: The club signed four Day 2 picks from last week's amateur draft: C Mac James (sixth round, Oklahoma), RHP Mike Franco (seventh, Florida International), 3B Daniel Miles (eighth, Tennessee Tech) and RHP Chris Pike (ninth, Oklahoma City University). Franco was second in the NCAA with a 1.09 ERA. Pike followed a perfect game with a no-hitter in March.

Miscellany: Today's game will be on the MLB Network. … 3B Evan Longoria's fiancee, Jaime Edmondson, announced via Twitter they're expecting their second child in November. … Longoria is second in All-Star fan voting for his position with 729,092 votes, trailing Oakland's Josh Donaldson (1,470,544). … Hernandez, Nolan Ryan and Jake Peavy are the only pitchers in the past 25 years to earn a no-decision after allowing no runs and striking out at least 15, according to ESPN.

Rays waste Chris Archer's strong game 06/08/14 [Last modified: Sunday, June 8, 2014 11:29pm]

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