Chris Archer combined with three Rays relievers on a five-hit shutout, as Tampa Bay took a 3-0 triumph over the Minnesota Twins on Friday in the opener of a three-game set at Target Field.
Archer (9-7), coming off consecutive rough outings, struck out seven and scattered three hits over six stellar frames before Jake McGee and Joel Peralta each pitched a scoreless inning in relief.
"I've had games where it's been decent, but tonight it was the best it's been in my career," Archer said of his changeup. "I think tonight the difference was me having something a little slower to show them instead of hard fastball, hard slider."
Fernando Rodney retired the Twins in order in the ninth to secure his 35th save of the season.
Yunel Escobar finished 3-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored for the Rays, who have won back-to-back games and hold a 1 1/2-game lead over the Cleveland Indians for the final AL wild card spot.
Trevor Plouffe collected two of Minnesota's five hits, while starter Kevin Correia (9-12) was charged for all three runs on eight hits over six-plus innings for the Twins, who have lost three straight games.
"Correia did a really nice job, but their guy was better," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Their guy didn't give us many opportunities, and the ones we did have, we had called third strikes and too many punchouts for our baseball team."
Tampa Bay pushed a two-out run across in the second, as Wil Myers scorched a line-drive shot to right that deflected off the glove of Clete Thomas, allowing Myers to glide into second with a double.
Desmond Jennings ripped Correia's next offering into center field to score Myers for a 1-0 lead.
Tampa Bay tacked on another two-out run in the third when Escobar laced a leadoff double, moved to third on a fly out, and scored two batters later on James Loney's single to right to make it 2-0.
Jose Molina and Escobar opened the seventh with consecutive doubles to push Tampa Bay's lead to 3-0.
Tampa Bay second baseman Ben Zobrist recorded his 461st walk as a Ray to set a new franchise record for career walks ... In 12 innings of work over two starts against Minnesota this season, Archer has allowed just six hits and an unearned run ... The Rays have won all five meetings with Minnesota this season ... The Twins went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base.