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Archer has rough night as Rays drop opener to O's

Offense limited by Baltimore's Chen as Tampa Bay lose second straight

BALTIMORE -- Tampa Bay needed Chris Archer to step up and pitch like Chris Archer Monday night.

He did not, and the Rays took a 7-1 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards.

The Rays have now lost two in a row while moving to 3-4 on the current road trip and 7-7 on the season.

Baseball seasons have highs and lows. After losing starters Matt Moore and Alex Cobb to the disabled list over the past six days, the Rays are in the midst of one of those lows. After all, teams that are built on pitching and defense like the Rays can't lose two of their five starting pitchers and not skip a beat.

On top of the loss of arms, the Rays have struggled offensively. Entering Monday night's game, they had scored just 13 runs in their previous seven games.

Thus, if ever the Rays needed a starting pitcher to step up with a big game, they needed Archer to do so. Based on his two previous outings, both quality starts, those expectations seemed reasonable.

Unfortunately for the Rays and Archer, the Orioles had different ideas, teeing off on the 25-year-old right-hander from the beginning.

"I actually felt good about how my stuff was," Archer said. "This was just a good lineup, and I made too many mistakes over the plate."

The Orioles pushed across a run in the first, three in the second and two in the third to take a 6-0 lead that looked considerably greater given the way the Rays' offense has been performing.

Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy led the Orioles' 13-hit onslaught with three hits apiece. Nelson Cruz, Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Flaherty all chipped in with two each.

Archer is "tough," Wieters said. "He's got great stuff, so he's one of those guys that you go up there and kind of look for something over the plate that you can put some barrel on. We were able to kind of keep the ball rolling.

"A lot of big two-out hits, a lot of big RBIs with guys on second. It wasn't really the long ball that did it tonight, but we found a way to win."

Archer did not make it to the sixth inning having thrown 95 pitches through five. He allowed a career-high seven runs on 12 hits and a walk while striking out six en route to his first loss of the season.

"Some days you just aren't going to execute as best as you'd like," Archer said. "I wasn't able to really limit damage like I was last game. With runners on base, I was giving up singles, doubles, and last game I was able to get out of it."

Though Archer experienced a tough outing, Rays manager Joe Maddon did not think he was pressing because of the team's situation of late.

"I think he's smart enough to know he didn't have to change anything tonight," Maddon said. "Just, they just got him on some bad pitches. They didn't miss them. He didn't get away with anything. They made us pay for every bad pitch we made.

"He was trying to get in on the lefties and the ball was leaking back over the plate. Wasn't staying straight. Wasn't starting it back at them enough to have it come back in on the inside edge. It was coming back middle. And then sliders, he threw some really good ones with a lot of depth and others were kind of flat."

Meanwhile, the Rays' offensive malaise continued. They have now been outscored 34-14 in their last eight games, averaging 1.8 runs per game over that stretch.

Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced before he allowed his first hit, a one-out double to James Loney in the fifth. Evan Longoria's RBI single in the sixth proved to be the lone run the Rays would score against Chen, who allowed one run on five hits in 6 1/3 innings to earn his second win of the season.

"We were able to get some early outs and let our defense work behind him," Wieters said. "The big thing is if you can get those first- and second-pitch outs, you can get deep in the game and he did that for us."

The Orioles' defense also turned three 4-6-3 double-plays on the night.

"I thought balls went right at some fielders," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We played real good defense. ... I thought they centered a lot of balls off [Chen]. We were fortunate tonight. Real good defense. Three double plays. Two behind him. They hit a lot of balls hard. Fortunately, we had people where they hit them."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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