ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — If not for Brandon Belt, it might still seem like July for Chris Archer.
The Tampa Bay rookie right-hander allowed three hits to Belt, including a home run and an RBI triple, in the San Francisco Giants’ 4-1 win over the Rays on Friday night.
“Everything I threw, Belt saw,” said Archer, who lost for the first time in eight starts. “A fastball first-pitch, he went the other way for a base hit. A fastball down and he kind of crushed it. So I figured I’ll try a changeup, mix it up, but he saw that well, too.”
Madison Bumgarner struck out 11 in seven innings for the Giants, and Brandon Crawford’s two-run homer off Archer in the seventh completed the scoring in the first meeting between the two teams since 2004. The Giants won their third in a row.
After permitting just two runs over 31 innings in him winning his last four July starts, Archer allowed four runs and seven hits in seven innings. Three of the runs and five of the hits came in the decisive seventh.
“I felt like I was making pitches, and they were able to put it in play,” Archer said. “But maybe my feelings were wrong. I gave up five hits in a row, but to me it didn’t feel like it got out of control, although there were four runs scored.
“It’s a good-hitting team,” he added. “They’re defending World Series champs so they’ve pretty much seen it all, and with two outs in the seventh they just started seeing me really well.”
The Giants have not been a good hitting team this season, but Belt came into the game on a 1-for-19 slump. Manager Bruce Bochy gave him three days off to make adjustments — one of them to his grip, another to his position in the batter’s box.
“I’m standing farther back,” he said. “So far it’s made a world of difference just being able to see the ball longer. I’ve always been a guy that wants to see the ball and react. That’s why I kind of scoot up, but that can cause some problems both mechanically and mentally.”
It is the Rays who have had problems hitting lately, especially with men on base. In their last two games — both losses — they have scored only one run while leaving 18 men on base.
“The last two nights we’ve had a difficult time against two really similar left-handers, (Arizona’s Wade) Miley and Bumgarner,” Maddon said. “They pitched us well in the right moments and … we need to get back on task with that and we will. There’s an ebb and flow to the season; you get hot at some moments and sometimes you don’t.”
Bumgarner (11-7) gave up one run, working around seven hits and three walks. He tied his season high for strikeouts. It was his ninth straight start in which he allowed two earned runs or fewer, matching the longest such streak in the majors since Randy Johnson of Arizona did it in 14 straight games in 1999.
Sergio Romo got two outs for his 26th save.
Belt got the Giants’ first two hits off Archer (6-4). He singled in the third and tied it at 1 on his homer in the fifth, which stopped a career-high stretch of 18 shutout innings for Archer.
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.
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.