MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays didn't lose their edge during their recent slide. They're still strategizing with a World Series in mind.
Saving Chris Archer's right arm is one example, and he was so good on Friday night there was no concern of overexertion.
Archer spun six scoreless innings, and the Rays added to their slim wild-card lead by beating the Minnesota Twins 3-0.
"There was no moment that really showed up. He pretty much had his way," said manager Joe Maddon, who was more than satisfied with 87 pitches by the rookie. "I just want to really eye him up, because our intent is to play well into October, and I want to make sure that he's well."
The Rays hold the second wild-card spot with four teams still in striking range. They nudged their advantage to 1½ games over Cleveland, due to a loss by New York that pushed the Yankees to two games back. Baltimore (2½ games behind) and Kansas City (3½) are lurking, too.
Archer (9-7) scattered three singles and struck out seven without a walk, following a pair of rough outings to start September. In his 20th start, he lowered his ERA to 3.03.
"I still feel mentally and physically there. But I have an understanding of the big picture and maybe saving a couple extra innings, just in case if we do make that magical playoff run," Archer said.
Yunel Escobar had an RBI double among his three hits for the Rays, and Desmond Jennings and James Loney drove in runs with singles against Kevin Correia (9-12), whose defense behind him was less than ideal.
"We need to make the plays that should be made. We're not good enough to make up for that right now," Correia said.
After losing 13 of 17 games, the Rays picked up an important victory on Thursday night over AL East-leading Boston on a tiebreaking eighth-inning double by rookie standout Wil Myers.
The Rays started their weekend reprieve against the floundering Twins before 11 straight games against wild-card competitors Texas, the Orioles and Yankees. Tampa Bay has won 10 straight games against the Twins, including five this year. The Twins, who lost 15 of their last 18 home games, struck out 11 times.
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