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Archer struggles in second, only goes 4 in loss

Pruitt's 5-inning relief outing limits options heading into scheduled "bullpen day"
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Chris Archer prides himself on being able to pitch deep into games. And for the bulk of his time with the Rays, the right-hander has done just that.

Saturday night was an exception in a 9-4 loss to the Phillies at Tropicana Field.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Chris Archer prides himself on being able to pitch deep into games. And for the bulk of his time with the Rays, the right-hander has done just that.

Saturday night was an exception in a 9-4 loss to the Phillies at Tropicana Field.

View Full Game Coverage

Archer threw strikes. Archer battled. And the Phillies just kept hitting. Particularly in the second, when they touched home six times in the inning to take a 6-0 lead.

Archer needed 34 pitches to navigate the second, which saw him surrender six hits and a walk en route to giving up a crooked number.

"Surprising that he wasn't able to limit the damage," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "...But they had some good at-bats against him. … A lot of credit goes to Philadelphia's lineup, for a bunch of guys who don't have a ton of history facing him. They really didn't waver from an approach or anything. They came out and attacked and didn't miss pitches.

"I think he's just in a little bit of a rut. It was telling today that he wasn't able to limit damage for whatever reason," Cash said. "Normally we don't see him do that."

J.P. Crawford homered off Archer to lead off the fourth, which proved to be Archer's final inning of work. The seven earned runs were his most allowed since Sept. 26, 2015, against the Blue Jays, and they moved his ERA from 5.94 to 7.84.

"It's just unfortunate, because the one thing I pride myself on is at least giving the team length regardless of the results," Archer said. "I didn't do that. I just put us in a really bad spot all around.

"Hits are going to happen. Runs are going to score. But with two strikes, obviously I have a track record of being able to put people away, and tonight I didn't do that. … I didn't do a good enough job of stopping their momentum. And that's my fault. I learned from it, and it won't happen again."

Much has been made about the Rays use of "bullpen days" to fill the places of two starters in the rotation. To date, the Rays have seen more success when a reliever starts than when a member of their rotation starts. Only twice this season has a Rays starter gone six innings or more, and the rotation has enjoyed just one "quality start." Cash allowed that the three starters -- Archer, Blake Snell and Jake Faria -- have been less effective than the pitchers filling out the "bullpen days."

"They have been, there's no doubt," Cash said. "To a man, all three of them, they need to pick us up. We're only going to go as far as they can take us. Allowing us to do some unique things. And I think they would all tell you the same thing.

"The consistency. The pitch efficiency. Getting deeper into the ballgames. They are all things that make us a very pitching-based organization. And we have not done that early on this year."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Austin Pruitt took over for the Rays to start the fifth. And while he allowed two runs in his first inning of work, he did manage to finish the game, throwing the final five innings and helping to preserve the bullpen.

Video: PHI@TB: Pruitt grounds out Kingery to complete outing

"I definitely saved the bullpen," Pruitt said. "But it was kind of frustrated coming in that first inning, letting a couple of runs cross."

SOUND SMART
Daniel Robertson has reached in 15 of 28 plate appearances this season, and leads the team with nine walks.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Mallex Smith made a 4 Star diving catch of a Crawford ball to left. According to Statcast™, Smith had a 38 percent chance to make the catch and needed to cover 72 feet to do so. He covered that distance in 4.2 seconds. His 29.2 feet per second sprint speed ranked well above the MLB average at 27.0 and near the elite benchmark of 30.

Video: PHI@TB: Statcast™ measures Smith's diving catch

UP NEXT
The Rays will have a "bullpen day" on Sunday, their fifth of the season. Ryan Yarbrough will start, with a flurry of relievers following. The game will start at 1:10 p.m. ET and will commemorate the 71st anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier. Ben Lively is set to take the mound for Philadelphia.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Chris Archer