Chris Archer has battled consistency issues since the end of June, but the level of offense Baltimore has displayed in a damaging late-August slump might make his next start a little more predictable.
The Tampa Bay ace takes the mound Monday night at Camden Yards, where the Rays will try to send the Orioles to a fifth straight loss overall and at home.
Archer (11-10, 2.88 ERA) surrendered four runs and nine hits with 12 strikeouts in six innings of Wednesday's 5-3 home loss to Minnesota, falling to 2-6 with a 4.13 ERA in his last 11 starts and reaching 10 losses for the first time in his career.
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He blamed an unfortunate seventh inning for spoiling what could have been a better result after falling to 1-3 with a 3.18 ERA over the last five outings in which he's struck out at least 10 batters.
"Felt great," Archer told MLB's official website. "Threw the ball well. I think we played well overall. That seventh inning, the ball didn't go our way."
The right-hander hasn't had much success against Baltimore with a 1-3 record and 5.31 ERA in seven career starts. Only one came at Camden, but it was the worst of the bunch as Archer gave up seven runs and 12 hits in five innings of a 7-1 loss on April 14, 2014.
Chris Davis (4 for 10 with a home run), Manny Machado (6 for 16), Steve Pearce (3 for 8 with two homers) and Ryan Flaherty (5 for 14) have hit him well, but Adam Jones' 2-for-20 mark might be more in line with the club's recent run.
After Sunday's 6-0 loss in Texas, Baltimore (63-67) has dropped 10 of 11 and fallen 5 1/2 games back of the Rangers for the AL's second wild-card spot. The Orioles have averaged 2.7 runs and hit .216 in that span while allowing six wild-card candidates to move ahead of them, including the Rays (64-66).
In their last nine games, Davis is batting .121 with 18 strikeouts and Matt Wieters is at .138.
"We're still right in the thick of things. We just have to get on a little winning streak," Jones said. "We're still going to make a run. There's a full month left, so I don't think anybody in this clubhouse has given up."
Baltimore has won seven of 12 in the series with the Rays, though the offense hasn't been much better with 3.2 runs per game and a .208 average.
Tampa Bay is a game ahead of the Orioles, but it has lost five of seven. The Rays avoided a three-game sweep with Sunday's 3-2 home win over Kansas City.
The bullpen has done its part with one earned run allowed in the last 18 2-3 innings over four-plus games, but the lineup managed eight runs in the series.
They'll try to break out against Wei-Yin Chen (8-6, 3.17), who is 4-0 with a 4.08 ERA in his last seven starts, which began with a 5-2 win in Tampa Bay on July 26. The left-hander has seen the Rays four times this season and hasn't allowed more than three runs in his last six starts in the series while going 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA.
Kevin Kiermaier (4 for 9 with a home run), Daniel Nava (7 for 16 with a home run) and Logan Forsythe (7 for 22 with three homers) have hit him well, but Asdrubal Cabrera is 0 for 11. Kiermaier has also homered in consecutive games.