HOUSTON -- Chris Archer produced another quality start at Minute Maid Park and the Tampa Bay Rays averted a series sweep with a late power surge in their 10-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Sunday.
Archer (8-17) scuffled through the fourth inning but was otherwise outstanding, limiting Houston to three runs on four hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts. He reached 200 strikeouts on the season with his punchout of Astros first baseman A.J. Reed to close the sixth inning for his second consecutive 200-strikeout campaign.
While he didn't match the brilliance of the one-hit shutout he tossed against the Astros on Aug. 20, 2015, Archer faced just one batter over the minimum over his first three innings and repeated that feat over his final three frames, coming unraveled yet rebounding nicely from Houston's three-run fourth.
The Rays (55-74) built a four-run lead against right-hander Doug Fister (12-9) before the Astros (68-62) mounted their futile rally. Steven Souza Jr. and Evan Longoria recorded RBIs in the second and third innings, respectively, before the former scored on an error by third baseman Alex Bregman in the Rays' two-run fourth. Catcher Luke Maile added an RBI double that upped the lead to 4-0.
Fister continued his up-and-down second half, allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits and one walk with just one strikeout over 4 1/3 innings. Fister has failed to pitch into the seventh inning in any of his last five home starts.
Clinging to a 4-3 lead after seven innings, the Rays exploded for five runs in the eighth. Shortstop Matt Duffy socked a two-run home run, his fifth on the season, off Astros right-hander Michael Feliz. Left fielder Corey Dickerson greeted left-hander Tony Sipp with his 18th home run five batters later, a three-run shot to right field that followed back-to-back singles from Tim Beckham and Maile that chased Feliz.
Bregman, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa reached base in succession against Archer to open the fourth, with Altuve driving a first-pitch fastball into the Crawford Boxes in left field. His 21st home run cut the deficit in half, and after Archer issued a two-out walk to Reed, catcher Jason Castro delivered an RBI single that scored Correa, who followed the Altuve dinger with a single to right field.
Archer regained his footing almost as quickly as he temporarily lost it, setting the Astros down in order in the fifth inning before retiring the final six batters he faced after Correa opened the sixth with a single. Archer struck out four of his final five batters, running his season total to 202 strikeouts, tops in the American League.
NOTES: Rays RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) made his final rehab start for Triple-A Durham on Saturday night and is scheduled to rejoin the team in Boston. Cobb allowed one run on five hits with one strikeout over four innings. He is slated to pitch this weekend against Toronto in what would be his first appearance with the Rays since Sept. 28, 2014. ... Compromised by a thin bullpen, the Rays recalled RHP Steve Geltz from Triple-A Durham and optioned OF Mikie Mahtook. Geltz is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in 21 games over two prior stints with the Rays. ... Astros DH Yuli Gurriel took early work in left field on Sunday and should make his first start in the field during the series against the Athletics. Gurriel has made four starts with the Astros, all as their designated hitter. ... Astros RHP Luke Gregerson (left ankle) is expected to return for the series against the Athletics. Gregerson last pitched on Aug. 18 against the Orioles.
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