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Duda, Archer guide Rays to win over Toronto

MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Chris Archer came through with a quality start, and the Rays' offense got in gear Tuesday night in a 6-5 win over the Blue Jays in the series opener at Tropicana Field between the AL East rivals.

The Rays (62-65) remained four games behind the Twins for the AL's second Wild Card spot, with five teams in between. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays (59-66) fell back with the loss.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Chris Archer came through with a quality start, and the Rays' offense got in gear Tuesday night in a 6-5 win over the Blue Jays in the series opener at Tropicana Field between the AL East rivals.

The Rays (62-65) remained four games behind the Twins for the AL's second Wild Card spot, with five teams in between. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays (59-66) fell back with the loss.

View Full Game Coverage

Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce made things interesting in the ninth, getting hits off Rays closer Alex Colome to lead off the inning. Miguel Montero's sacrifice fly got the potential tying run to third, but Colome was able to hold on for his 37th save.

"That's kind of what makes Alex special," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "It's second and third no outs six pitches into the inning. We have a two-run lead. And his demeanor doesn't change. ... That kind of sets him apart. Puts him in that category to answer in those kinds of situations."

Video: TOR@TB: Colome forces a flyout to earn the save

Archer was brilliant, allowing one earned run on four hits and a walk while striking out 10 in six innings to earn his ninth win. In his last seven starts, the Rays right-hander has struck out 61 and walked just eight.

Video: TOR@TB: Archer strikes out 10 in six strong frames

The only earned run the Blue Jays scored against Archer came on a home run to Toronto's leadoff hitter Norichika Aoki on the second pitch of the game.But the Rays' offense quickly got into gear.

Lucas Duda hit a 1-1 pitch from Chris Rowley into the right-field stands with one out in the first, giving Duda 23 homers and tying the game at 1. The Rays got busy again in the second when Corey Dickerson reached the cheap seats in right with his 23rd home run.

Video: TOR@TB: Dickeron powers a solo homer to right field

Kevin Kiermaier added a two-run triple to put the Rays up, 4-1.

"It was nice to get some early runs right out of the gate," Cash said. "Duda homer. It was nice to answer. They hit the home run to start the game, we answered back. We had some better at-bats than what we had against Rowley up in Toronto."

Pillar ejected in third inning

The Blue Jays rallied in the fifth with a little help from the Rays. Montero struck out for what should have been the second out, but reached thanks to catcher Wilson Ramos' passed ball. Ezequiel Carrera followed with a double, then Ryan Goins singled home one and Aoki's sacrifice fly scored another to cut the Rays' lead to 4-3.

Video: TOR@TB: Goins plates Montero with a single to center

Ramos had an RBI single in the sixth and Evan Longoria an RBI triple in the sixth to push the Rays' lead to 6-3.

Video: TOR@TB: Ramos' infield single plates Longoria

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Triple trouble from Kiermaier: Kiermaier has been red hot since re-joining the Rays on Friday. In the second inning, the Rays center fielder stepped to the plate with runners on first and second. The count reached 2-2 when Rowley delivered an 81.2-mph changeup that Kiermaier drove to center field. Both runners scored on the triple.

Video: TOR@TB: Kiermaier plates two with a triple to center

Longoria answers: The Blue Jays had just rallied in the fifth to cut a three-run Rays' lead to one when Longoria led off the bottom half of the inning. The count reached 3-2 when Matt Dermody delivered a 92.8 mph fastball. Longoria drove the ball to deep left-center field and made it to third when Carrera bobbled the ball in center. 

Video: TOR@TB: Longoria plates Hechavarria with a triple

QUOTABLE
"It's no different than having to face any other team. They're a good hitting team, and there's 29 other ones out there. That's not really an excuse. I have to go out there and command the zone and make quality pitches down in the zone, and I didn't do that. Whenever I was up, they made me pay for it." -- Rowley, on the challenges of facing the same team two starts in a row

"It felt like everyone was doing something tonight. Kind of flowed over from that win the other day." -- Dickerson, on the Rays' win

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Since returning from the disabled list on Friday, Kiermaier is hitting .411 (7-for-17) with a double, a triple, a home run and three RBIs.

"He's swinging the bat pretty well. He's really motivated to do his part right now, there's no doubt about that," Cash said. "He's really added a spark to our offense."

PLOUFFE DESIGNATED
Following the game, the Rays announced they had designated infielder Trevor Plouffe for assignment and recalled right-hander Andrew Kittredge.

UNDER REVIEW: The Blue Jays challenged whether Longoria's fifth-inning double remained in play as it bounced up at the wall. The ball bounced off the yellow line at the top of the wall before it came back to Carrera. Carrera dropped it, allowing Longoria to move to third. The call on the field of the ball being in play was upheld after a 1 minute, 27 second delay.

Video: TOR@TB: Longoria stays on third base after the review

WHAT'S NEXT
Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman (11-6, 2.99) will make his second straight start against the Rays, this time at Tropicana Field on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. The righty held the Rays to two runs over 6 1/3 innings in Toronto last Wednesday while striking out seven.

Rays: Austin Pruitt (6-4, 5.37) gets the nod Wednesday night in a 7:10 p.m. ET contest against the Blue Jays. He is 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in three career appearances against the Blue Jays. His last appearance against them came on June 13 at Toronto when he pitched the final 2 2/3 innings of an 8-1 win.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

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

Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg and covered the Blue Jays on Tuesday.