Chris Archer fans 10 in win
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The last-place Rays feasted on Astros pitching Sunday afternoon in a 10-4 drubbing of the home team at Minute Maid Park. Tampa starter Chris Archer racked up 10 strikeouts in seven innings while Houston starter Doug Fister was unable to get through the fifth.
The Rays took a 1-0 lead in the second thanks to a trio of well-placed ground balls that resulted in hits. A pair of third inning doubles off Fister extended the lead to 2-0.
Things took a turn for the worse in the fourth. A single and a wild pitch set the stage for one of the stranger plays of the season. Alex Bregman failed to make the play on Tim Beckham's grounder to third and, as the ball trickled into leftfield, Bregman was ruled to have interfered with Steven Souza, who was running to third. Souza scored on the play to make it 3-0 and Luke Maile followed with an RBI double to give Archer and the Rays a 4-run cushion.
The Astros got back in the game quickly with a 3-run rally in the bottom of the frame. After Bregman coaxed a leadoff walk, Jose Altuve lifted a fly ball into the Crawford Boxes to cut the lead in half. Jason Castro delivered the third run with a clutch 2-out single plating Carlos Correa, who had singled after Altuve's blast.
Fister ran into more trouble in the fifth and was removed from the contest with one out and two runners on base. Chris Devenski was summoned from the bullpen and promptly struck out Brad Miller and retired Matt Duffy on a ground ball to end the threat.
Devenski worked his magic for two more innings and A.J. Hinch handed the ball to Michael Feliz in the eighth with the Astros trailing by one. But Feliz was unable to keep the Rays offense in check, allowing a solid single to Miller and a home run to Duffy. One out and two hits later, Feliz was "relieved" by Tony Sipp.
Sipp immediately served up a gopher ball to Corey Dickerson and the rout was officially on. Dickerson's homer was the 12th allowed by Sipp in 35 innings pitched this season. The long ball has plagued Sipp even more in recent weeks as it was his sixth allowed in his last 8-2/3 innings of work.
The loss, coupled with a Rangers win over Cleveland, dropped the Astros 8-1/2 games behind the division leaders. The Astros go back to work Monday night at MMP when they open up a 3-game series against the Oakland Athletics at 7:10 CDT. Joe Musgrove attempts to bounce back from two straight disappointing outings when he takes the mound against fellow rookie Sean Manaea. Oakland's left-hander is coming off an outstanding outing in which he held the Indians to one run on three hits in seven innings pitched.
- Greg Thurston