"I'm just getting more comfortable with my stuff -- understanding myself, understanding the opposing team, again, trusting my defense," Archer said. "We made some great plays today. … We were in sync."
Continuing his string of dominant performances, Archer guided the Rays to a 7-3 finish on a 10-game road trip, as they took two of three from the Mariners, who fell to 25-32 after finishing the homestand 2-9.
Right-hander Kevin Jepsen closed it out in the ninth by working around a two-out error from third baseman Jake Elmore. Logan Morrison followed a single to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games, bringing the winning run to the plate, before Brad Miller flied out to end the game.
Making just his second big league start since being recalled to replace injured southpaw James Paxton, rookie Mike Montgomery (0-1) was tagged with his first loss, despite keeping the Rays off-balance. The left-hander allowed two runs over seven innings, with three strikeouts and one walk against his former organization. The Rays traded Montgomery to Seattle on March 31 in exchange for right-hander Erasmo Ramirez.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED One big early run: It might not have seemed like it at the time, but Logan Forsythe's first-inning RBI single proved to be a pivotal play in the game. It was set up by Elmore, who led off the game by working a walk against Montgomery. Butler singled Elmore to second and Forsythe lined one into the outfield to give Archer an early advantage, and Mahtook gave him the winning run with the homer in the seventh.
Mariners can't deliver in seventh: Archer had the Mariners corralled until Nelson Cruz began the seventh with a single and Miller hit a two-out, RBI single to cut the deficit to 2-1. But Archer followed by striking out Willie Bloomquist on his 113th and final pitch to escape trouble.
Getting out of a jam: The Mariners put themselves in a good position to score in the bottom of the fourth inning, but Archer and the Rays defense came through in snuffing out the potential rally. After Seth Smith led off with a double and a Cruz infield hit gave the Mariners runners at the corners, Archer struck out Kyle Seager and Mark Trumbo in succession and then Cruz attempted to steal second base and was caught in a rundown and eventually tagged out by second baseman Forsythe. After the game, Cruz, who finished 2-for-4 with a run, admitted he misread a sign.
"You're talking about some really good hitters, and Arch, his stuff … it just seems like it gets better with every outing." -- Rays manager Kevin Cash
"I'll tell you what. If my general manager thought I put that play on, then I should be fired. [Cruz] thought he saw something that wasn't there. ... Nobody feels worse than him. It's something that happened." -- Mariners manger Lloyd McClendon said of Cruz's botched steal attempt in the fourth inning
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Archer is the only pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) with 10-plus strikeouts and zero walks in three straight starts, according to Elias Sports. With Sunday's 11-strikeout, no-walk effort, Archer has now struck out 38 batters without a walk in his last three outings. More >
With one out in the top of the third, Montgomery fielded a Forsythe ground ball and threw high to second to start a 1-6-3 double play. After shortstop Miller recovered and touched the bag, his throw to first appeared to beat Forsythe, but umpire Jim Wolf ruled him safe. McClendon challenged and the call was promptly overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Rays: The Rays will head home to St. Petersburg for a three-game series against the Angels that begins Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Right-hander Nate Karns will try to notch his fourth win of the season and will be up against Angels righty Matt Shoemaker. Karns had a streak of six starts, in which he allowed two runs or fewer, snapped in his last outing, also against the Angels.
Mariners: The Mariners get a much-needed off-day Monday, then begin an eight-game road trip, starting Tuesday at 4:10 p.m. PT against the Indians at Progressive Field. Left-hander Roenis Elias (2-3, 2.94 ERA) will get the nod for Seattle as it faces reigning American League Cy Young winner Corey Kluber (3-6, 3.61 ERA) again after the right-hander fanned 13 Mariners in a 5-3 win on May 28.