ANAHEIM -- The Angels were feeling good entering Tuesday, while coming off a four-homer game that put their season-best winning streak at five games. But then they ran into the electric Chris Archer, who put them in their place with 15 strikeouts and led the Rays to a 6-1 victory at Angel Stadium.
Archer gave up only an Albert Pujols home run -- the 534th of his career to move him into a tie for 17th all-time -- while pitching eight innings of one-run ball, walking none and setting a career high in strikeouts. The 26-year-old right-hander was five days removed from a 12-strikeout performance in eight scoreless innings against the Mariners and tied James Shields (Oct. 2, 2012) for the most strikeouts in a game in Rays history.
"He should get a lot more notoriety than he does," Angels catcher Chris Iannetta said. "Good guy, goes about his business the right way, looks like he has really good work ethic, great demeanor on the mound, doesn't show anybody up, very professional out there. It's evident in his ability to execute pitches."
The Rays entered 25th in the Majors in runs, but scraped across five against C.J. Wilson in the first six innings. Logan Forsythe hooked a two-run homer around the left-field foul pole in the first and Jake Elmore and Asdrubal Cabrera notched big two-out singles in the sixth, helping the Rays capture their third win in the last four games.
"We talked about getting an early lead. Logan providing the big home run in the first inning," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "That was nice. Because you don't want to let a pitcher like C.J. Wilson kind of set in a groove."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Loaded for Elmore: The Rays clung to a 2-1 lead with two out in the sixth and the bases loaded. Wilson fell behind 2-0 to Elmore when his third pitch came in high. Home-plate umpire Pat Hoberg called strike one. Elmore shook his head while Rays manager Kevin Cash fumed in the Rays' dugout. Then Elmore singled to right to drive home two and put the Rays up, 4-1. Kole Calhoun almost ended the inning with a diving catch. More >
Pujols keeps raking: Pujols' solo homer in the fourth gave him six home runs in his last six games and a team-best 14. He now has 534 for his career, tying Jimmie Foxx for 17th on the all-time list, and is on pace for 43 this season. The 35-year-old first baseman was batting .375 over his previous eight games and was the only Angels player who even had a chance against Archer on Tuesday. Pujols also lined into a double play in the first, toward the shift, and flied out to the edge of the warning track in center field to end the eighth. More >
Forsythe delivers: Batting against Wilson in the first with Joey Butler on first and two outs, Forsythe hit a home run over the wall in left to stake the Rays to a 2-0 lead. Forsythe has reached base in 21 of his last 22 games. Five of his six home runs this season have come against left-handers. The six home runs match a single-season high for Forsythe.
Recent struggles: If Forsythe's home run doesn't sneak over the short fence in left field, or if Calhoun extends an inch or two further to rob Elmore, Tuesday plays out a whole lot differently. But as it stands, Wilson gave up five runs in six innings and has now allowed 14 runs -- on 23 hits, 13 walks and 23 strikeouts -- over his last 23 innings. In that span, his ERA has jumped from 2.62 to 3.55.
"If you go through a whole lineup and you give up one hard-hit ball, you feel pretty good about yourself in general," Wilson said. "It just [stinks] that I gave up four free baserunners tonight with the hit-by-pitch and the walks."
"The way he's pitching right now I would certainly say he would be the ace of any staff. You can take his numbers and probably put them up against anybody in baseball." -- Cash, when asked if Archer is becoming an ace
"One day I can look back and say, 'What a career.' But it's hard for me to stay focused on that. I know the people in front of me because people bring it up to me all the time. It's a blessing to accomplish that. I have to acknowledge that. But at the same time, I have to block that out." -- Pujols, on continuing to move up the home-run list
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Archer became the first Rays pitcher in team history to strike out at least 12 in back-to-back games. He struck out seven of the first 10 batters he faced, including five in a row, and has 27 strikeouts in his last two games. His 97 strikeouts are the most by a Rays player through his team's first 53 games. Archer passed Indians ace Corey Kluber for the Major League lead in strikeouts.
Edgar Ibarra, signed out of Venezuela at the age of 16 and in the Minors for the last 10 years, pitched two hitless innings in his Major League debut, walking one and striking out two. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Ibarra is "definitely further along than we saw in Spring Training. He's come a long way."
WHAT'S NEXT Rays:Nate Karns (3-2, 3.32 ERA) will make his 11th start of the season at 10:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The right-hander has enjoyed a big turnaround. In his first four starts, he was 1-1 with a 5.32 ERA. Over his last six starts he is 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA. He is 1-0 with a 1.02 ERA in three road starts this season.
Angels:Hector Santiago (4-3, 2.18 ERA) starts opposite Karns in the series finale (7:10 p.m. PT), taking the ball with the lowest ERA in the Angels' rotation. The 27-year-old left-hander won the fifth spot in Spring Training and has since given up two runs or fewer in seven of 10 starts. Santiago pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings against the Tigers on Friday.