ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — There was some doubt over whether Chris Archer would even be able to pitch Sunday. When he did make the start, the Rays right-hander exceeded all expectations, even his own.
"I was honestly thinking if I could get through five (innings), that was going to preserve our bullpen a little bit," Archer said after pitching seven scoreless innings in a 5-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. "But my pitch count was in a good place and I still felt like I had a little bit left in me so they let me go."
Archer, who had been sick for two days, gave up two hits and Brandon Guyer drove in four runs as the Rays won their fifth straight.
Archer (3-2) became the first American League pitcher to go four starts within one season without giving up an earned run since Zach Greinke did it for Kansas City in 2009.
Archer allowed an unearned run in a 1-0 loss to Boston on Tuesday, but he has not given up an earned run since opening day, a span of 26 2-3 innings.
"I don't think we could ask for a better month out of a starting pitcher. He's been as good as I've ever seen," said Rays manager Kevin Cash.
"You've seen him over the last couple years and he gets better and better and better," said Toronto manager John Gibbons. "He's got a dynamite arm, he's confident and a great athlete."
Evan Longoria had three straight hits and a walk for the Rays after going 4 for 4 on Saturday. Longoria's batting average rose from .218 to .306 in two games.
Guyer hit the second pitch from Mark Buehrle (3-1) for a home run, his first of the season.
Logan Forsythe drove in another run for the Rays in the first inning with a double after Longoria's single.
Guyer made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly in the fourth, then broke the game open with a two-out, two-run single off Buerhle in the sixth.
"We had the bases loaded with no outs, and I feel like in that situation we definitely needed to get a run, and it gave us some more momentum," Guyer said. "With the way our bullpen is going, with a couple more runs we're definitely confident of getting that W."
Matt Andriese pitched the final two innings for the Rays.
Tim Beckham had two hits for Tampa Bay and scored twice.
Buehrle, who had been supported by 12 or more runs in each of his three preceding starts, gave up five runs on 13 hits in 5 2-3 innings.
"I feel better about this game than I did the previous two," Buehrle said. "But when you're up against a guy like Archer, he's been on this year."
The Blue Jays scored six runs in losing three straight at Tropicana Field, where they are 11-21 since 2012.
Blue Jays: RF Jose Bautista (sore right shoulder) missed his fifth straight game. He hit in an indoor cage and Gibbons is hopeful the slugger will return to the lineup in the next couple days. ... INF Maicer Izturis (groin) is progressing but not close to playing in minor league games.
Rays: CF Desmond Jennings, who left after seven innings Saturday due to left knee soreness, didn't play.
Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez (1-2, 5.14 ERA) will face Boston RHP Joe Kelly (1-0, 4.08 ERA) Monday night.
Rays: Tampa Bay plays it first game in open air Monday night at the New York Yankees. "I want to put some sunglasses on for batting practice," Rays manager Kevin Cash said with a smile. The game at Yankee Stadium will be Tampa Bay's 20th of the season. No major league team has ever gone this far into a season playing all their games under a roof.
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