ST. PETERSBURG -- Chris Archer deserved better Saturday night. The Rays right-hander allowed one earned run in seven innings, notched his fifth consecutive quality start, and set a Rays record with his 24th career double-digit-strikeout performance.
But he took the loss in the Rangers' 4-3 win at Tropicana Field.
"I thought he had as good a fastball command as we've seen in a while," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I thought his changeup was a really big pitch for him. Maybe not so much to put guys away with it, but it was another weapon he was able to show and he threw some really, really good changeups. ... When you introduce that third pitch with the two pitches he's already featuring, he becomes that much more dynamic."
Most -- save for Archer himself -- would have said the righty seemed to have the game under control.
"I never say that I'm on cruise control, because in the big leagues anything can happen at any moment, but I was able to control the game, for the most part, up until the sixth inning, whenever I got two outs," Archer said.
That's when the Rangers did their damage. With runners on second and third and two outs, Adrian Beltre lined to deep center field for what should have been the third out. Instead, center fielder Mallex Smith dropped the ball. Two runs scored on the play to tie the game at 3.
"It happens," said Archer of the play.
Beltre then advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored what turned out to be the winning run on another wild pitch by Archer.
Cash allowed that Archer likely got flustered by Smith's play, leading to the wild pitches.
"It kind of broke him out of his rhythm a little bit," Cash said. "But that's a tough blow to handle for anybody."
Archer noted that he needs to be "a little bit better" when "things go down."
"I can't throw two wild pitches," Archer said. "There are areas where I could have been better."
Archer finished with 11 strikeouts, giving moving him past David Price for the most double-digit-strikeout games in team history. Still, Saturday night's loss was a tough one to take.
"It's up there," said Archer, when asked where the loss ranked on the disappointment scale. "But the beautiful thing about baseball is we have tomorrow."
And despite Archer's disappointment, he handled Smith's miscue graciously.
"We talked about it," Archer said. "I told him tomorrow he has an opportunity to make plays, get a couple knocks, steal a couple bags. Just focus on that."
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.