The Tampa Bay Rays ended July on a down note, but it still ended up being the best month in franchise history.
No AL rookie pitcher in the past 92 seasons had a better July than Chris Archer .
The right-hander goes for a fifth consecutive winning start Friday night when the Rays continue their push for the AL East lead with the San Francisco Giants making their second-ever visit.
Going for its 24th win in 28 games, Tampa Bay (64-44) finished with three hits in a 7-0 loss to visiting Arizona on Wednesday.
The Rays, though, went 21-5 in July, and they would have opened this three-game series percentage points ahead of Boston for the East lead had the Red Sox not rallied for six runs in the ninth inning of Thursday's 8-7 victory over Seattle.
"I really can't get too upset," Rays manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday. "It's been a pretty good July, one of the funnest Julys I've ever participated in."
Archer (6-3, 2.39 ERA) enjoyed a historic July, going 4-0 with a 0.73 ERA in five starts after throwing a two-hitter in Saturday's 1-0 road win over the Yankees. Since 1921, that is the lowest ERA by any AL rookie in July.
"Right now, it's a combination of me being myself and the information that (pitching coach Jim) Hickey gives me," Archer, who has two shutouts in his last three starts, told the Rays' official website. "He tells me what the go-to pitch is for certain hitters. Otherwise, he wants me to pitch to my strengths."
Archer gets his first look at the Giants (48-59), who arrive in St. Petersburg after rallying for a 2-1 victory at Philadelphia on Thursday.
San Francisco, last in the NL West, has won two in a row following a 1-8 stretch.
"I think I was pretty fortunate," Romo said. "... It was a great win for us."
The reigning World Series champs go for their first three-game win streak since July 11-13 with Madison Bumgarner (10-6, 2.76) on the hill.
The All-Star left-hander leads the Giants in wins and innings, but the club hasn't done much to support him lately, scoring once in his last two outings.
Bumgarner has surrendered one run in those starts after his eight scoreless innings were wasted in Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Cubs.
"What a great job Bum did," manager Bruce Bochy told the Giants' official website. "We're trying to figure out what happened with the chances we had."
Bumgarner, who has never faced the Rays, will have to figure out a way to pitch to rookie Wil Myers , who's batting .457 with four homers and 12 RBIs during a 12-game hitting streak.
The Rays, who had their seven-game interleague home winning streak snapped Wednesday, haven't dropped two straight overall since June 26 and 28.
Tampa Bay won two of three from the visiting Giants from June 8-10, 2004, to even the all-time series at three games apiece.
|San Francisco Giants|
|July 31, 2013||Pablo Sandoval||Day-to-Day||Bruised right heel|
|July 30, 2013||Buster Posey||Day-to-Day||Ill|
|July 29, 2013||Tony Abreu||15-Day DL||Left knee bursitis|
|July 25, 2013||Marco Scutaro||Day-to-Day||Back soreness|
|July 21, 2013||Jeremy Affeldt||15-Day DL||Strained left groin|
|July 09, 2013||Hector Sanchez||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|July 29, 2013||Matt Moore||15-Day DL||Left elbow soreness|
|June 28, 2013||Evan Longoria||Day-to-Day||Plantar fasciitis, left foot|
|June 16, 2013||Alex Cobb||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 05, 2013||Kelly Johnson||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|May 16, 2013||David Price||15-Day DL||Left triceps strain|
|May 16, 2013||David Price||15-Day DL||Left triceps strain|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Brandon Belt got the previous three games off in Philadelphia for a mental break and work on his swing, and the first results were outstanding.
Belt had three hits, coming within a double of hitting for the cycle, as the San Francisco Giants beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-1 on Friday night.
"He looked great," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We talked in Philly, and he's all in with trying to make a couple adjustments. It's not easy to do it for a day, so give three days to work on it. It was good for him."
Belt has loosened the grip on the bat and is positioned deeper in the batter's box. He called Friday's success a 60-40 split, with the higher percentage being for the batting work.
"I think mentally I've stayed in there pretty well," said Belt, who been mired a 1-for-19 slide. "There's just some things that I need to work on to tap into my ability a little more."
Madison Bumgarner struck out 11 in seven innings and Brandon Crawford hit a two-run homer for San Francisco, which was won three straight. The defending World Series champions are 10 games under .500.
This was the first time since 2004 that the teams met.
Tampa Bay has lost two in a row, including its first game in August. The Rays went 21-5 in July.
Bumgarner (11-7) gave up one run, working around seven hits and three walks. He tied his season high for strikeouts.
Bumgarner's current nine-start stretch of allowing two earned runs or less and pitching at least seven innings is the second-longest in franchise history since records are available, behind the New York Giants' Ferdie Schupp 's 12 in 1916-17.
"Any time you're able to battle through when you don't necessarily have the command you're used to having, it makes it a tougher kind of battle," Bumgarner said. "You're going to have games like that."
Sergio Romo got two outs for his 26th save.
After Belt hit an RBI triple in the seventh against Chris Archer (6-4), Crawford followed with his home run for a 4-1 lead.
Archer allowed four runs and seven hits in seven innings. He had permitted just two runs - one earned - over 31 innings in winning his previous four starts.
Belt got the Giants' first two hits off Archer. He singled in the third and tied it at 1 with his homer in the fifth, which stopped a career-high stretch of 18 shutout innings for Archer.
"Everything I threw, Belt saw," Archer said. "A fastball down and he kind of crushed it. Fastball first pitch, he went the other way for a base hit. So I figured I'll try a changeup, mix it up, but he saw that well, too (for the homer)."
Ben Zobrist put the Rays ahead 1-0 with an RBI single in the third. Bumgarner, who had a 16-inning scoreless streak end, avoided a big inning by getting an inning-ending pop fly from Sean Rodriguez with the bases loaded.
Bumgarner worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in the fifth by retiring Evan Longoria , Wil Myers and Rodriguez.
"Just a tough competitor," Bochy said. "Going seven innings, one run, shows you how good he is. He was without his good command tonight."
This is just the third series between the teams. When they last played in June 2004 in Florida, the Giants had Barry Bonds , and Jose Bautista was on the roster of the then-Devil Rays.
NOTES: Struggling Giants LHP Barry Zito will not make his next scheduled start Sunday and will be replaced by RHP Guillermo Moscoso . ... Rays RHP Alex Cobb , hit in the head by a liner in June, is scheduled to pitch Saturday for Class A Charlotte. His first rehab start lasted just two pitches due to a blister. ... Tampa Bay LHP David Price (6-5) and San Francisco RHP Tim Lincecum (5-11) are Saturday night's scheduled starters. It will be just the second game in Rays' history featuring former Cy Young Award winners. Price faced Toronto RHP R.A. Dickey on May 9. ... With Price pitching, the left-handed hitting Belt could be out of the lineup.