ST. PETERSBURG -- Chris Archer's funk continued on Thursday afternoon, when the Rays fell to the Indians, 6-0, in the rubber game of their three-game series.
Archer allowed three runs -- two earned -- in 5 1/3 innings, walking three and striking out six en route to his third loss of the season in as many starts.
"I competed," Archer said. "I did not shy away from contact purposefully at any point. I gave up a two-run homer, but outside of that the effort is there."
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The right-hander has not won since Aug. 31 of last season at Baltimore. In the nine starts since, he has gone 0-6 with a 5.83 ERA. He had not gone more than five innings in five consecutive outings prior to pitching 5 1/3 innings on Thursday. Archer is now 0-3 with a 5.87 ERA this season.
"Obviously, there is room for growth, but the one thing I want to do, beyond not give up the two runs, is pitch a little deeper into the game," Archer said. "And if you eliminate those walks, those are three potential outs. But if you look at what the other starter did and what I did, there is not much difference. And I'm sure they are over there talking about what a great start [Indians starter Danny Salazar] had versus average or mediocre results for me."
Ironically, none of the Rays' starting pitchers have managed to notch a win in nine games this season. Matt Moore stands as the last Rays starter to earn a win, which he did in the final game of last season, on Oct. 4 against the Blue Jays.
"We need to get some runs for all of our pitchers early on," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I thought [Archer] competed really well today. Whether we put him in a jam or he put himself in a jam, he was making some big pitches. Just a little bit unfolded there that one inning there. From the first inning on there were guys on base. For him to finagle his way out of that first inning unscathed was pretty impressive."
Archer has not pitched as well as Rays fans are used to seeing him pitch, but several factors worked against him, including Salazar, who stifled Rays hitters for six innings.
On top of that, Brad Miller booted a leadoff ground ball to start the fifth, and that led to a run, while Hank Conger hit a double in the bottom half of the inning, only to get tagged out when popping up after sliding safely into second, killing a potential rally.
Archer gave up a leadoff single to Jose Ramirez to start the sixth, and Marlon Byrd followed with a two-run homer that orchestrated Archer's exit one out later.
Despite Archer's less-than-auspicious beginning to the season, he did not cut the figure of someone who was discouraged about his performance or his team's 3-6 start.
"I think we may be putting a little extra pressure on ourselves," Archer said. "Honestly, we are still trying to build that team chemistry, that team camaraderie, because there are a lot of new faces. We are all trying to get on the same page and get comfortable. There is frustration, because we know that we are better than what our record reflects."