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Cosart's gutty outing fuels Astros' 7-3 win

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- Hamstrung by an illness that had him regurgitating the contents of his stomach on more than one occasion, Houston Astros right-hander Jarred Cosart surely eyed the end of his outing with impatient longing.

Instead, Cosart resisted the urge to succumb to whatever it was that ailed him, working seven innings for just the third time this season as the Astros evened their three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays with a 7-3 victory on Saturday at Minute Maid Park.

Cosart (6-5) certainly benefited from the Astros' five-run third inning, but he also did yeoman's work in saving his bullpen. He scattered nine hits and issued just one walk while allowing three earned runs -- two on a fifth-inning, two-run homer by Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.

"It was great, great to get a win," Cosart said. "I picked a good day to get a little bug. I think it's been going around. I was throwing up and some stuff going on before the game, so it was just nice to get through. I'm glad it's over for now. I had to battle a little bit. But it's a great team win.

"I had some stuff going on during the game. It started last night. I think it's just with the food. (Astros right-hander Kyle) Farnsworth had it yesterday. I still wasn't going to come out of the game. I wanted to go out and try to get seven and give the bullpen a break."

The Astros (32-38) mounted their rally with two outs against Rays right-hander Chris Archer (3-4), whose fielding error while covering first base enabled Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler to reach.

Rays first baseman James Loney was forced into a spin after fielding the grounder, and while his throw was somewhat low, Archer should have made the catch. Second baseman Marwin Gonzalez scored on the error.

"I should have made the play," Archer said. "We are baseball players. I work on my fielding. We work on most plays in spring training countless times. I should have made the play."

Archer then hit right fielder George Springer with a pitch and walked first baseman Jon Singleton to load the bases before catcher Jason Castro worked a walk to score Fowler and give Houston a 2-1 lead.

Third baseman Matt Dominguez followed by clearing the bases with a double to left center that was mere inches from being a grand slam. Shackled by Rays right-hander Alex Cobb on Friday night, the Astros' plate discipline played a key role in their chasing Archer from the hill.

"After what the guy was able to do to us last night having us chase ball after ball after ball out of the zone, I felt like our guys did a tremendous job today of making that one adjustment of saying, 'We're going to make them get the ball up, we're going to see the ball in the strike zone,' and I think that was the biggest inning in which it paid dividends for us," Astros manager Bo Porter said.

Archer departed after walking left fielder Alex Presley to open the fourth. Archer allowed six runs (one earned), three hits and three walks with two strikeouts. Of his 74 pitches, only 41 went for strikes, emblematic of control problems that included a wild pitch in the third.

"And it's always with two outs and sometimes in innocuous moments it seems where there's not a lot going on then a whole lot starts going on," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He's just a young guy. He's done great. He's done a wonderful job for us. He's going to get better in those moments."

Cosart, whose development has been undermined by control woes, has walked only six batters in his last four starts. This start was his first against the Rays since his major league debut on July 12, 2013, at Tropicana Field -- an outing in which he allowed two hits and three walks in eight scoreless innings.

The Rays (26-43) failed in their bid for a third consecutive victory, which would have marked their longest streak since they won four consecutive games from May 22 to May 25.

NOTES: Rays LHP Cesar Ramos allowed the first batter he faced -- Astros 2B Marwin Gonzalez -- to score in the third inning. Of the Rays' 21 previous relief appearances, 20 had been scoreless. ... Astros 2B Jose Altuve missed his second consecutive game with a right hand contusion. Altuve did take ground balls before the game. ... Rays OF Brandon Guyer worked out with Triple-A Durham on Friday and was the designated hitter on Saturday in Indianapolis. Pending the results, he could play defensively for Durham on Sunday. Guyer was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left thumb fracture on May 26.
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