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TEX@TB: Archer fans six, holds Rangers to two runs

The Rays' downward spiral of two weeks ago is old news.

Now Tampa Bay, winners of eight of its last 11, looks to remain atop the muddled American League Wild Card standings in Monday's series finale against Baltimore at Tropicana Field.

The Rays, who have a half-game lead over the Indians for the top Wild Card spot, send 24-year-old right-hander Chris Archer to the hill against righty Wei-Yin Chen.

Although Archer is young and in his first full Major League season, he has experienced the heat of the pennant race before. For him, given last year's September, it's old hat.

"I haven't even thought about it like that. This is all I know," Archer said of making big starts. "Last year, when I was up, it was a similar situation, and I made a couple of starts down the stretch in early September. I haven't really thought about it. This is what it is right now for us as a whole."

Going deep into games has been key for Archer this season. When he has pitched six innings or more in a start, the Rays are 12-1. When he hasn't, they're 1-7. He's also 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his last two starts after losing his first two decisions of the month, and on Monday he faces a tough, though struggling, Baltimore squad.

"I'm going to follow the gameplan we've put together," he said. "They're obviously a tough lineup, so I'm going to have to be mindful of every pitch. As long as I do that, I'm going to be happy with my outing."

Chen toes the rubber for Baltimore -- which is 4 1/2 games behind Cleveland for the second Wild Card berth -- after allowing a career-high 11 hits last time out, against the Red Sox. It was an uncharacteristic start for Chen, who held the Rays to two runs over seven innings on Aug. 21.

"I'm not satisfied at all tonight," Chen said after facing Boston. "This is the big leagues. I made a couple of mistakes, and I paid the price. This is a lesson I need to learn and carry on."

Orioles: Rotation set
Baltimore tentatively set its rotation for the rest of the season on Sunday, with Chris Tillman, Bud Norris and Miguel Gonzalez following Chen. Manager Buck Showalter said that the plan could be altered if the Orioles remain in postseason contention.

• The 51 doubles hit by third baseman Manny Machado are the second most in Major League history by a player in his age-20-or-younger season, trailing only Alex Rodriguez's 54 in 1996.

Rays: Jennings day to day
Center fielder Desmond Jennings is day to day after leaving Sunday's game in the sixth inning with a tight left hamstring. Jennings, who was scratched on Friday with a stiff neck, was injured after bunting for a base hit to lead off the frame.

• If Archer wins on Monday, the Rays will become the first team to feature a rookie with 10 or more wins in five straight seasons since the 1947-52 Philadelphia A's.

Worth noting
• The Rays lead the season series, 12-6, and have won 10 of their last 12 against the O's.

• Rays third baseman Evan Longoria has a three-game hitting streak. He was out of Sunday's lineup because of flu-like symptoms, and though he entered as a defensive replacement late in the game, he did not have an at-bat.

• Baltimore's next win ensures consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1996-97. Comments