HOUSTON - RHP Chris Archer was not involved in the decision Thursday as the Rays wrapped up a quick four-game road trip to Minute Maid Park with a 7-5, 11-inning victory against the Astros. But the rookie right-hander was thrilled he had all three of his pitches - fastball, curveball, change-up - working during his six innings. Archer allowed two runs on two hits. He walked three and struck out five in what he considered was his third straight solid outing. "I'd say I'm continuing to progress," Archer said. "I know I walked three, but I felt comfortable with all three pitches and I haven't felt that the whole time I've been here. Some night it's just one. Some nights it's just two. (Thursday) it was all three. I felt like all things were clicking."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Archer helped himself with his command, something that isn't always there for young pitchers. "Everything was better," Maddon said. "You never really saw that shotgun approach where the ball was all over the place, fastball-wise. "If he missed, he didn't miss big, and he was able to come back and throw strikes kind of when he wanted to." Bullpen mostly good RHP Joel Peralta failed to hold a three-run lead in the eighth inning, an inning that started with a walk to the leadoff batter and continued with a broken-bat bloop single and then a three-run homer. Peralta politely declined to talk about the outing. "We had that thing where we should have," Maddon said. "Joel is fantastic. He's not good, he's fantastic. That's just a bad moment for him. But we did bounce back." The Rays bounced back because RHP Kyle Farnsworth replaced Peralta and, with the help of SS Yunel Escobar, stopped the Astros' rally and because RHP Jamey Wright kept the Astros off the board, setting up RHP Fernando Rodney to get his 18th save. "Sometimes out of a difficult situation like that, the positive is we got Farnsworth and Wright in some high-leverage moments," Maddon said. "They responded well, which should further their value as we move down the road." Maddon used Alex Torres for only one inning because he wants him available tonight if needed against the White Sox. If so, it will be the first time this season Torres will work back-to-back games. Longoria update Evan Longoria played his third game as the DH on Thursday. He hopes to return to third base as soon as possible, but with the Rays returning tonight to the unforgiving surface at Tropicana Field, he might remain the DH for this weekend's series with the White Sox. "You logically would think that. I don't know that," Maddon said. "Day-by-day. We'll see what happens." Hellickson feeling fine RHP Jeremy Hellickson faces the White Sox tonight when the Rays begin a 10-game homestand. He has won his past three starts by allowing three earned runs in 19 innings (1.42 ERA) and holding opposing hitters to a .209 average. "I'm keeping the ball down in the zone and I'm getting ahead," he said. "I think I'm able to get ahead with all three of my pitches, and I wasn't able to do that earlier in the year. That makes it a little easier, and my confidence is higher now, too." This will be the first time the Rays and White Sox have met since the famous David Price/Tom Hallion war of words and run-in on Twitter. Hellickson was ejected from the game for arguing with umpire Hallion from the dugout and eventually was fined $1,000 for his postgame tweets. He said he has yet to pay the fine. "We appealed it, and I haven't heard much since," he said. "It's still in the appeal process, I think." Noteworthy 1B James Loney extended his hitting streak to 15 games, tying his career-high. . Archer extended the Rays' streak of innings without a walk to a team-record 24 before walking the first batter in the third inning. . CF Desmond Jennings hit .444 with a homer, two doubles, five RBIs and six runs while leading off all four games of the series. He reached base in the first inning of the final three games. . RHP Jeff Niemann, out for the season after having shoulder surgery in early April, visited the clubhouse Thursday morning. A Houston native, Niemann is rehabbing in the area. . The Rays are now 5-11 all-time on July 4. Roger Mooney