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Archer back on track as Rays win 4th straight

Righty deals 6 2/3 scoreless innings as Cron, Span, Field go deep
Special to MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- Chris Archer pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and was backed by homers from C.J. Cron, Denard Span and Johnny Field as the Rays beat the Angels, 7-1, on Thursday night.

The Rays ran their winning streak to four as they won for the eighth time in their past nine games at Angel Stadium.

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ANAHEIM -- Chris Archer pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and was backed by homers from C.J. Cron, Denard Span and Johnny Field as the Rays beat the Angels, 7-1, on Thursday night.

The Rays ran their winning streak to four as they won for the eighth time in their past nine games at Angel Stadium.

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Archer (3-3) was solid, winning his fifth straight decision vs. the Angels while running his lifetime mark against them to 6-1. He surrendered just two hits, walked four and struck out five.

"I thought his slider was good late in the count and that was the key for him," manager Kevin Cash said. "I don't know what it is, but some guys just have comfort pitching on certain mounds and he certainly looks like he has comfort here."

It was quite a reversal for the right-hander as Archer's 5.64 ERA entering the game was the seventh highest in the Majors among qualified pitchers. He last won on April 26.

But he kept the Angels out of sorts and saved his best work for their top hitters. Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani were a combined 0-for-9 against Archer.

"I've been getting hurt on some sliders that were elevated, so I made it a point tonight to make sure I was under the zone for the most part and I think that really benefited the team," said Archer, who studied Astros righty Justin Verlander's winning performance on Wednesday against the Angels.

Ohtani later hit his sixth homer of the season to break up the shutout in the ninth off reliever Austin Pruitt.

Tyler Skaggs (3-3) was on his game, too. He threw six innings of one-run ball, allowing six hits and three walks. He struck out seven.

Field's eighth-inning home run, which put the Rays up, 7-0, came with Christian Arroyo aboard after the Tampa, Fla., native collected his second hit in his Rays debut.

Video: TB@LAA: Field skies a 2-run homer to left

The Rays produced a four-run seventh off reliever Jim Johnson, with Span's two-run homer being the big blow. Daniel Robertson added an RBI single and then scored on an error as the Rays went ahead, 5-0.

"We busted it open and that was huge,'' Archer said.

Video: TB@LAA: Robertson crosses the plate on dropped popup

Cron, who also stole a base, broke the scoreless tie leading off the sixth when he sent a laser into the Rays' bullpen for his 11th homer of the year.

"It was a fun trip around the bases,'' said Cron, who struck out against Skaggs twice earlier. "He just gave me a better pitch than he did in the first two at-bats.''

Playing in his first game in Anaheim since being traded to the Rays in February, Cron ambushed Skaggs' 83-mph changeup for his third home run in as many games.

"It was cool just getting out there and seeing the guys and playing at a place I had played at so many times -- it was special,'' Cron said. "I think [the home run] got us going a little bit. Skaggs is a good pitcher so it is tough to get to him early, and as the game wore on, we got more comfortable up there.''

Video: TB@LAA: Cron belts a solo HR against his former team

The Angels had runners on in the first four innings and in scoring position in two of those frames. But Archer kept escaping trouble.

"He made pitches,'' Cash said. "You're going to have to wiggle out of jams when you are facing a lineup like this one tonight. I think it speaks volumes to how strong Chris' performance really was.''

That it came on the heels of a rough outing his last time was a plus.

"I think this is something he can build off of,'' Cash said. "We all know how much he cares. Tonight it did go his way and it has to be gratifying for him.''

In the fourth, with Andrelton Simmons aboard on a one-out single, Ian Kinsler sent a rocket toward left field. But Robertson, who had slid over to shortstop after Adeiny Hechavarria strained his right hamstring (he's day to day), snagged the ball on his backhand side and flipped it to Joey Wendle to start an inning-ending double play.

An appreciative Archer skipped with glee after the play and extended congratulations to the double-play tandem before reaching the dugout.

It was among the Angels' few chances, as once again Archer -- who once struck out a career-high 15 at The Big A -- made himself right at home.

Video: TBR@LAA: Cash on Archer's outing, Cron

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With the Rays clinging to a one-run lead and Skaggs out of the game, Field singled leading off the seventh, and one out later, Span launched a laser to right off Johnson for his fourth home run of the season to get the four-run inning started.

Video: TB@LAA: Span laces a 2-run homer to right in the 7th

SOUND SMART
A pair of two-way players were both supposed to be in action on Thursday night, but the weather didn't cooperate. Rays No. 3 prospect Brendan McKay, a first baseman/pitcher, had his start rained out at Class A Advanced Charlotte after the southpaw went 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA at Class A Bowling Green. Ohtani, who will start Sunday's series finale on the hill, was the Angels' designated hitter and homered in the ninth.

Video: TB@LAA: Ohtani launches a solo homer to center in 9th

UP NEXT
Blake Snell seeks to bounce back from his last outing in his second career start against the Angels on Friday. Snell, a southpaw, matched a season low by pitching 3 1/3 innings and equaled a season high with five runs allowed in a loss to the Orioles on Sunday. He faced the Angels in 2016, when current teammate C.J. Cron drove in one of the two runs he surrendered in the defeat. Righty Nick Tropeano opposes Snell, with first pitch from Angel Stadium at 10:07 p.m. ET.

Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com based in San Diego.

Tampa Bay Rays, Chris Archer, C.J. Cron, Denard Span