ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Houston starter Collin McHugh had a good outing against the Rays. He just couldn't keep pace with Tampa Bay counterpart Chris Archer.
The Rays' right-hander allowed three hits in 6 2-3 innings, controlling his slider and spotting his fastball to handcuff the Astros in a 5-0 victory Thursday night. Kevin Kiermaier and Evan Longoria homered for Tampa Bay on consecutive pitches off reliever Paul Clemens in Houston's fourth straight loss.
"(Archer) had an explosive fastball and his breaking stuff was really working," Astros manager Bo Porter said, "but if you look at the quality swings we put on the ball, they just seemed like they had defenders there. Every time we hit the ball hard, they were able to catch it."
McHugh (4-5) gave up two unearned runs and four hits over six innings on his 27th birthday.
The Rays took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on Yunel Escobar's run-scoring single and a bunt by Ryan Hanigan. Tampa Bay got a break when Astros shortstop Jonathan Villar dropped a throw on Brandon Guyer's potential double-play grounder after a leadoff single by James Loney.
"The error opened up the floodgates for that inning and gave them some extra outs. They took advantage of it," Porter said. "It was a groundball-double play ball that we end up not recording a single out. Now it turns it into a pretty stressful inning."
McHugh, who has a 1.69 ERA on the road, didn't consider the error to be quite as decisive.
"Which error? I made an error, too," he said. "Errors happen. They've made some huge plays for me so far this season, but errors are going to happen. It's my job to keep making pitches."
Archer (4-4) struck out eight and walked two to help the Rays win for the sixth time in their last 23 games. Three Tampa Bay relievers completed the three-hitter.
Jose Altuve opened the Houston fourth with an infield single and stole second, but was left stranded. The Astros also failed to score during the sixth when Altuve singled and swiped his AL-high 26th base.
Altuve is 8 for 13 in three games since returning from an injury.
NOTES: The four-game losing streak is the Astros' longest since May 20-23. ... Rays LHP David Price (5-6) and Astros RHP Jarred Cosart (6-5) are Friday night's starters. Cosart beat Price, then the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, in his big league debut last July 12. ... Houston RHP Brad Peacock, (food poisoning), Saturday's scheduled starter, rejoined the team. ... The Rays placed OF David DeJesus on the 15-day DL with a broken left hand. DeJesus expects his hand will be in a splint for three weeks. ... Guyer (broken left thumb) was activated from the 15-day DL. ... Tampa Bay RHP Jeremy Hellickson (elbow) will need at least one more minor league start. Hellickson has made three rehab starts, including the last two at Triple-A, where he has allowed 11 runs and 18 hits over a total of five innings.