The rubber match of a three-game set between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays is on tap for Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field as the first half of the 2013 season comes to a close.
After winning on Friday night, the Astros got off to a strong start on Saturday afternoon by putting up three runs in the first inning, headlined by a Brett Wallace two-run home run, but the Rays battled back to win, 4-3.
Tampa Bay scored three runs in the fifth inning to tie the contest and went ahead for good following a Luke Scott RBI single in the sixth. Scott finished 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBI, while Will Myers was 2-for-4 with a stolen base to set up Scott's go-ahead RBI.
"They're little things that mount up in the course of a game, and I think that's indicative of what we've been doing as a lineup," Scott said. "Guys up and down the lineup contributing all sorts of things with the bat, with the legs."
Roberto Hernandez (5-10) allowed three runs in six innings while striking out six to earn the win. The bullpen pitched three scoreless innings, with Fernando Rodney completing a perfect ninth for his 22nd save.
Lucas Harrell (5-10) pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief and gave up the go-ahead run in the loss. Dallas Keuchel started for the Astros and surrendered three runs in 5 1/3 innings of work.
Jason Castro was 2-for-4, giving him three multi-hit games in his last six.
On Sunday, Houston will turn to Erik Bedard, who has been sub par in his first season with the Astros with a 3-5 record and a 4.67 ERA.
Although Bedard has managed to avoid injury so far this season, something that has plagued him throughout his 10-year career, his production has fell off since a stellar June (3-1, 3.19 ERA). In two July starts, Bedard is 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA, surrendering 11 walks in 11 2/3 innings compared to only seven strikeouts.
The southpaw has been especially weak on the road, yielding a 6.53 ERA over nine starts away from Minute Maid Park.
For Tampa Bay, Chris Archer will make his ninth start of the season. Since joining the rotation in early June, Archer has been effective, going 3-3 with a 3.59 ERA.
The 24-year-old right-hander had perhaps the best start of his young career his last time out, allowing just one unearned run in six innings on July 9 versus the Twins, yielding only three hits while walking none in a 4-1 victory.
Archer faced the Astros just 10 days ago, giving up two earned runs in six innings in a no-decision on July 4.
The Astros lost three of four to the Rays to start July.