The Rays' first winning streak since mid-May came to end Saturday afternoon as the Rays fell to the Astros 7-3 at Minute Maid Park. Chris Archer took the loss, lasting only three innings and ending a streak of five excellent starts. Jarred Cosart pitched well for the Astros, earning the win by pitching seven innings of three run baseball.
The Rays didn't wait long before scoring the game's first in the top of the first. Kevin Kiermaier continued his hot hitting, sending a one out double to right field to give the Rays an immediate threat. Evan Longoria drove in Kiermaier with a single to right. Astros right fielder George Springer bobbled the ball briefly, eliminating any chance of a play at home. One run was all the Rays would get, as James Loney and Ben Zobrist failed to continue the rally.
Kiermaier doubled again with one out in the top of the third but was eliminated when he was caught stealing third with Longoria at the plate. The Rays challenged the out call but the call on the field stood. Longoria grounded out to second for the third out of the inning.
Archer ran into trouble during the bottom of the third, eventually needing 30 minutes and over 40 pitches to get three outs. Marwin Gonzalez, the number eight hitter in the Astros' lineup, hit a one out double to right center and moved the third on a wild pitch by Archer. Archer got a lineout from shortstop Jonathan Villar and appeared to be on the verge of escaping the inning with the lead intact. Leadoff man Dexter Fowler hit a groundball to Loney who attempted to throw to Archer, who was running to cover first base. The throw from Loney was behind Archer but a play that was certainly possible to catch. Archer could not come up with the ball, allowing Fowler to reach base safely, the run to score and the inning to continue. Archer then came unraveled, losing his command. He drilled the next batter, Springer, with a 96 mph fastball, giving the Astros two runners on. Archer walked the next two batters, Jon Singleton and Jason Castro, the first of which loaded the bases and second of which scored a run. Matt Dominguez cleared the bases with a double shot to left center, making the score 5-1 in favor of the Astros. The inning finally ended with a strikeout of Chris Carter.
For the fourth straight inning, the Rays put a man in scoring position. Like the second and third innings however, the Rays were unable to convert the baserunners into runs. Back to back base hits by David DeJesus and Matt Joyce were wasted when Yunel Escobar grounded out to third.
Archer came out to start the fourth and quickly walked Alex Presley, prompting Joe Maddon to replace Archer with Cesar Ramos. Ramos allowed a single to Gonzalez and a double to hot hitting Fowler, allowing two runs to score. Ramos did manage to strikeout the side and prevent further damage.
The Rays managed to get two runs back in the top of fifth on an Evan Longoria home run, his eighth of the year. Desmond Jennings hit a one out single which was followed by Kevin Kiermaier reaching on a fielder's choice. Evan Longoria launched a no doubter into the stands in left field to pull the Rays to within 7-3. Loney then doubled to left center, but the Rays couldn't keep the rally going as Zobrist flew out to left.
Ramos pitched three innings in relief for the Rays. Juan Carlos Oviedo and Kirby Yates each contributed shutout innings for the Rays.
Tony Sipp, Josh Fields and Josh Zeid combined to hold the Rays in check over the final two innings for the Astros.
The Rays and Astros play the rubber match of the series tomorrow at 2:10 ET with David Price going against Brad Peacock of the Astros.