Rays put together bases-loaded threat in 9th but come up short in loss to Astros
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Chris Archer wasn't in much of a mood to discuss individual performances.
The Tampa Bay Rays lost another close game Saturday, falling to the Houston Astros 4-3 after their starting pitcher failed to hold a pair of one-run leads and the offense only scored once after loading the bases with no outs in the ninth.
"My No. 1 goal the day that I pitch is get a team win," said Archer, who yielded three and six hits over 7 2/3 innings, including a solo homer that tied it 2-all in the seventh.
"I threw the ball well," the 2015 All-Star said, "but not quite well enough."
Houston reliever Will Harris walked the Astros into trouble in the ninth, losing his club-record streak of 26 consecutive scoreless appearances before escaping with his third save.
"My command was about as bad as it's been," the right-hander said after sandwiching two walks around a single to load the bases with no outs.
Steven Souza Jr.'s sacrifice fly trimmed Tampa Bay's deficit to one run, but Harris held on by getting Desmond Jennings to hit into a game-ending double play.
"It's never a good feeling when you're releasing the ball and it's not going anywhere close to where you want it to go," said Harris, who hadn't allowed a run since his season debut April 7 against the New York Yankees, a stretch of 26 1/3 innings. "I was really struggling trying to figure out how to get the ball over the plate and let my defense work for me. Lucky for me it happened."
Carlos Gomez and Luis Valbuena hit solo home runs to back a strong outing for starter Mike Fiers (4-3), who allowed solo homers to Evan Longoria and Brad Miller while winning for only the second time in a month.
Gomez went deep off Archer (4-8) to tie it in the seventh. Marwin Gonzalez scored on Erasmo Ramirez's wild pitch in the eighth and Valbuena homered off Dana Eveland for a two-run lead in the ninth.
"I couldn't find the strike zone. . I didn't find the right pitch in the right moment," Ramirez said.
Archer didn't fault the reliever.
"It's part of the game. He's been great for us," Archer said. "When he comes into a game, we feel confident. ... He's been used heavily, and baseball is a sport where there's a lot of ups and downs, and tonight was just one that wasn't necessarily a positive one for him."
Archer entered Saturday with a streak of 15 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings against the Astros. He retired the first nine batters, striking out the side in the third inning, before George Springer and Gonzalez singled leading off the fourth. Jose Altuve followed with a sacrifice fly that erased a 1-0 deficit.
Longoria's sixth homer in eight games snapped the tie and gave him 16 RBIs in his past 13 games. But both times the Rays gave Archer the lead, the Astros answered in the next half inning.
"A difficult ballgame, obviously," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa (sprained left ankle) was out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive game. "He's progressing, he's sore," manager A.J. Hinch said.
Rays: RHP Brad Boxberger (left oblique) says he's progressing but has no definitive date for a potential return from a second stint on the 15-day disabled list.
One of Tampa Bay's top offseason priorities was to add more power to the lineup, and the addition of Miller, Steve Pearce, Logan Morrison and Corey Dickerson has added more thump. Longoria's homer off Fiers was his team-leading 15th, and the Rays are third in the majors in homers with 90 through 60 games. That's 35 more than they had at this point a year ago. Miller's homer was his sixth -- first since May 14, a span of 83 at-bats.
Astros: 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel (3-8, 5.44 ERA)) will look to beat Tampa Bay for the first time in Sunday's series finale. The left-hander is 0-3 with 4.78 ERA in five starts against the Rays.
Rays: LHP Matt Moore (2-4, 5.56 ERA), starts Sunday. He's allowed three earned runs over 12 innings in winning two previous starts against Houston.