ST. PETERSBURG -- Led by Danny Salazar's pitching and the long ball, the Indians won, 6-0, to claim their series with the Rays on Thursday afternoon at Tropicana Field.
"Ugly loss, frustrating game, obviously," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We didn't do too many things well, or anything well for that matter today. Let's bounce back. We've got a night off. Let the guys go out and have a nice dinner, and come back ready to play a new series."
• Salazar maintains strong start to season
Francisco Lindor drove home the Indians' first run with a single to right off Chris Archer in the top of the fifth. Archer returned to pitch the sixth, and he surrendered a leadoff single to Jose Ramirez, followed by a two-run homer to Marlon Byrd. One out later, Steve Geltz replaced Archer, and he gave up a solo home run to Rajai Davis.
Indians No. 9 prospect Tyler Naquin added an RBI single in the seventh, his first career RBI, and Ramirez homered in the ninth to push the lead to 6-0.
Salazar baffled the Rays through six innings -- striking out nine in the process -- to move to 2-0 on the season. Meanwhile, Archer's spiral continued. The Rays ace has not won since Aug. 31 last season in Baltimore. In nine starts since, Archer has gone 0-6 with a 5.83 ERA. He had not lasted more than five innings in five consecutive outings prior to going 5 1/3 innings on Thursday. Archer is now 0-3 with a 5.87 ERA in three starts this season.
• Archer, Rays starters remain winless in 2016
"You can see why he's so good, even when he's not in midseason form -- maybe five weeks off a little bit -- he still had the ability to reach back when he needed to," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Archer. "One of the better sliders in the game. We stayed after him. We got his pitch count up. And then once we kind of broke through, we kept fighting."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Lindor does damage: After stretching Archer through four innings, the Indians broke through against the right-hander in the fifth. Roberto Perez reached on an error by shortstop Brad Miller, then Davis walked before Jason Kipnis flew out to center field. Finally, Lindor cracked his RBI single to right field, giving Cleveland a lead it would not relinquish.
Nifty snag: Byrd made a sliding catch on a line drive by Hank Conger with two outs in the second. The athletic play saved at least one run with Miller at second base and Steven Souza Jr. at first. A standing ovation from visiting Indians fans behind Cleveland's dugout greeted Byrd as he walked off the field.
"I'm here to do whatever," Byrd said. "We still don't have [Lonnie] Chisenhall back. We don't have [Michael] Brantley back. So my role is whatever. Whatever they need me to do, I'm ready to do it." More >>
Dodging a bullet: Archer had thrown 60 pitches with one out in the top of the fourth inning of a scoreless game, when Naquin ripped a 2-2 slider down the first-base line. If the ball got through the infield into the right-field corner, the runner at first, Byrd, would have likely scored. No problem for the Rays, though. First baseman Logan Morrison sharply raised his glove to grab the line drive and then stepped on the bag to retire Byrd, ending the inning.
Sloppy fifth inning: Miller set the table for the Indians' first run when he booted Perez's ground ball to start the Indians' fifth. Perez moved to second when Davis walked and scored one out later when Lindor singled to right to put the Indians up, 1-0. In the bottom half of the inning, Conger doubled to right with one out, but he was tagged out when he executed a popup slide after going safely into the bag.
"Obviously, that's my fault," Conger said. "I think in that situation, you really can't complain about it. It's been put in for a couple of years now. It's tough. … I came off. It's just one of those things where you learn."
• Bodley: Rays need frustration to get on track
"It was a good day. It was one of those days where even the old man gets to show his tools." -- Byrd, 38, on his big day which saw him go 2-for-3 with two RBIs
"I actually liked the fact today that guys looked frustrated. And that's OK to be frustrated. We all should be a little frustrated after, just the way we performed the past couple of nights. Especially today. Today was not good." -- Cash, on whether anything concerns him at this point of the season
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Indians stole five bases Thursday afternoon with Conger behind the plate for the Rays. Conger has struggled controlling baserunners dating back to last season, when he failed to throw out the final 37 runners attempting to steal against him. That streak has continued this season, as opposing baserunners have stolen seven straight against Conger, extending the streak to 44 consecutive successful attempts against him. More >>
When Conger doubled in the fifth, Lindor waved to the dugout that he'd tagged the Rays catcher at the completion of the popup slide. Francona challenged the safe call and, after a review of 1 minute and 24 seconds, the call was overturned.
Indians: The Tribe returns home to begin a three-game weekend series against the Mets, with right-hander Cody Anderson taking the mound Friday for the 7:10 p.m. ET start. He allowed two earned runs, six hits and two walks with two strikeouts in six innings during a no-decision against the White Sox on April 9 in his season debut.
Rays:Jake Odorizzi will make his third start of the season at 7:10 p.m. ET against the White Sox on Friday. In his last start, Odorizzi allowed four earned runs, all of which came in the second inning, in six innings against the Orioles.
The Indians and Rays will join all of Major League Baseball in celebrating Jackie Robinson Day on Friday. Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.