In the midst of two AL postseason races, the Tampa Bay Rays want to keep from ending August the same way they started it.
The Rays look to avoid a fourth consecutive loss and prevent the visiting Los Angeles Angels from recording their fifth straight victory Wednesday night.
Tampa Bay (74-56) opened the month losing seven of nine, then won eight of 10 before its current three-game slide. One night after being blown out 11-1 at Kansas City, the Rays wasted a four-run lead in Tuesday's 6-5 loss to Los Angeles (59-71).
They led 5-1 after six innings and by a run in the ninth when Erick Aybar hit a two-run double off closer Fernando Rodney . The Rays have blown 15 leads in the seventh inning or later this year, losing 12 of those contests.
"To permit that many runs late, we've done that way too many times," manager Joe Maddon said. "We've got to stop doing that."
Rodney has the second-most blown saves in the majors with eight, including three this month.
The loss dropped the Rays 2 1/2 games behind first-place Boston in the East, and left them one-half game ahead of Oakland for the top wild-card spot.
They'll look for Chris Archer (7-5, 2.93 ERA) to provide a third consecutive solid start, having allowed three runs and eight hits in 14 innings over the last two.
The right-hander ended a four-start winless streak with seven strong innings in a 7-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Friday.
"Confidence comes with success, and I've had a little of that," Archer told the Rays' official website. "I'm executing pitches better."
This will be the rookie's first game against the Angels, who have averaged 5.0 runs during a four-game winning streak that followed a four-game skid in which they scored nine.
Prior to Tuesday, Los Angeles had lost six straight and 12 of 13 to the Rays.
"We score runs and we've got a lot of guys that are hungry and want to do some damage in these last few weeks of the season," pitcher C.J. Wilson said. "Tampa Bay's on their way to playoffs, possibly, and if we can cause any disruptions, that's really the only thing we can do right now."
Aybar, who drove in four runs Tuesday, is 4 for 9 in the last two games after an 0-for-12 slump. He's 8 for 16 with six RBIs in his last four versus Tampa Bay.
The Angels hand the ball to Garrett Richards (4-5, 3.95), who allowed four hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 2-0 victory at Seattle on Friday.
"I didn't have my sharpest stuff in the beginning and as the game went on I got a feel for the breaking ball and the extension on my fastball," said Richards, 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA in six starts since replacing Joe Blanton in the rotation. "I was just filling up the zone and throwing quality strikes and going right at guys."
This will be his first appearance against the Rays.
With three hits and three RBIs on Tuesday, Tampa Bay catcher Jose Molina is 6 for 10 with two doubles, a home run and six RBIs in his last three games against the Angels.
|Los Angeles Angels|
|August 22, 2013||Kevin Jepsen||15-Day DL||Appendectomy|
|August 19, 2013||Mike Trout||Day-to-Day||Tight right hamstring|
|August 13, 2013||Erick Aybar||Day-to-Day||Left calf cramp|
|August 06, 2013||Howie Kendrick||15-Day DL||Sprained left knee|
|August 05, 2013||Howie Kendrick||Day-to-Day||Hyperextended left knee|
|July 27, 2013||Albert Pujols||15-Day DL||Plantar fasciitis|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|August 15, 2013||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Lower back spasms|
|August 04, 2013||Desmond Jennings||15-Day DL||Fractured left middle finger|
|August 04, 2013||Desmond Jennings||15-Day DL||Fractured left middle finger|
|August 02, 2013||Brandon Guyer||15-Day DL||Fractured right middle finger|
|July 29, 2013||Matt Moore||15-Day DL||Left elbow soreness|
|June 30, 2013||Jesse Crain||60-Day DL||Sprained right shoulder|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Chris Archer stayed at the top of his game long enough for the Tampa Bay Rays to bounce back from one of their worst losses of the season.
Archer pitched seven strong innings, David DeJesus scored twice and the Rays beat the Angels 4-1 Wednesday night, ending Los Angeles' four-game winning streak.
The rookie right-hander was given the assignment of breaking the Rays' three-game losing skid one night after they had squandered a four-run lead and fell 6-5, dropping 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox in the AL East.
"Honestly, the pressure's always the same whether we've won three in a row or lost three in a row," Archer said. "I'm still trying to go out there and execute pitches regardless of previous games."
Archer (8-5) allowed one run and five hits while striking out five. For the fifth time in his last 10 starts, he did not walk a batter.
"He's got such a strong mental game," Rays manager Joe Maddon noted. "This guy really understands routine and process. I saw a close-up on TV where he was almost talking himself, and I know he was telling himself the right things regarding how to slow down and how to focus ... That's been the impressive part. I mean zero walks - come on!"
In his five starts without a walk, Archer is 4-0 with an 0.47 earned run average. He has emerged in the late summer as the Rays' steadiest starter.
"I think I'm feeling the same thing everybody feels at this time of the season," he said. "I'm in good shape, my stuff's still crisp, my velocity is still there, I'm executing pitches. I think it's a mental hurdle rather than physical now for everybody," he said.
Archer breezed through the first six innings, scattering three singles and facing 20 batters, only two over the minimum.
"He's got good stuff. He's got a nice, easy delivery," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "His fastball is really live, and a terrific slider. He pitched a strong game for those guys."
Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth, striking out two for his 31st save.
Garrett Richards (4-6) gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks in 3 1-3 innings, the second-shortest of his career.
"I just didn't have it from the beginning," Richards said. "Arm felt good. Body felt good. I just wasn't there tonight."
DeJesus, playing his fifth game since the Rays got him in a trade with Washington, had two of the Rays' eight hits and drove in his first run. Ben Zobrist also had two hits and an RBI.
DeJesus led off the Tampa Bay first with a double and scored on Matt Joyce 's sacrifice fly.
In the fourth, DeJesus hit an RBI single off Richards' leg. The Rays scored three times in the decisive inning, and an error on shortstop Erick Aybar put the Rays up 4-0.
"We got one of those snowball innings that we need to have more of," said DeJesus, who is 6 for 11 in three games as a leadoff hitter with Tampa Bay. "We gave away that game yesterday. It's great to bounce back and get Rodney back in there, get him a nice save and have a clean game."
Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton opened the Angels seventh with singles. Kole Calhoun hit a sacrifice fly.
Trout had his 51st multihit game of the season and raised his batting average against right-handed pitchers to .332. He is hitting .333 against lefties.
Hamilton's single in the seventh extended his road hitting streak to a career-high 15 games.
NOTES: Angels 3B Chris Nelson left the game in the seventh inning with a strained right hamstring. The Angels said he will go on the disabled list Thursday. ... The Rays optioned LHP Jeff Beliveau to Double-A Montgomery after the game. ... RHP Jake Odorizzi , called up from Triple-A Durham late Tuesday, will pitch Thursday's series finale for the Rays. It will be Odorizzi's fourth start of the season and first since June 18. . . . Maddon said there is "a strong possibility" the Rays will call up Delmon Young on Sept. 1. The veteran outfielder was signed to a minor league contract on Aug. 22.