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AP - Sports

Chris Archer might be making his final start in the major leagues this season, but if his second outing goes anything like his debut, he'll have made a solid case for a future spot in the rotation.

The Tampa Bay Rays hope to provide him with a little more offense this time around.

Tampa Bay looks to get back on track Tuesday night after being shut out in its series opener with the host Kansas City Royals.

With Jeremy Hellickson on the 15-day disabled list due to right shoulder fatigue, Archer was called up from Triple-A Durham to fill the vacancy in the rotation.

Archer (0-1, 1.50 ERA) pitched a solid game in his major league debut opposite Stephen Strasburg, allowing only one earned run while striking out seven in six innings of a 3-2 loss to Washington on Wednesday.

The right-hander became the first pitcher not drafted by the Rays to start for the team since current Cub Matt Garza - whom he was traded for in January 2011 - on Sept. 30, 2010, ending a major league-record streak of 232 consecutive games.

It's almost certain Archer will head back to the minors after this outing with Hellickson in line to return Saturday.

"We're just seeing flashes of what he's capable of doing up the road as he learns to be more of a strike thrower with the kind of stuff he has," manager Joe Maddon told the team's official website. "As he learns to command that fastball where he wants to, heads up man, because you guys saw what kind of athlete he is."

The Rays (40-33) hope to send Archer out with a victory after falling 8-0 to the Royals on Monday. At the very least the bullpen will be rested, as Maddon opted to let Alex Cobb go the distance even though the righty gave up 13 hits and struck out only one.

Cobb became the first pitcher to toss a complete game while allowing that many earned runs and hits since Oakland's Rick Langford in 1980.

"He preserved everybody else, which preserves the integrity of the whole group for days," Maddon said.

The Royals (32-39) bounced back with a surprising shutout after allowing 30 runs while being swept by St. Louis over the weekend. Luke Hochevar pitched a seven-hitter, Eric Hosmer homered and Yuniesky Betancourt drove in three runs.

Bruce Chen tossed his only career shutout the last time he faced the Rays, a two-hitter in Kansas City's 7-0 home victory Oct. 1, 2010.

The left-hander gave up six runs and seven hits in 1 2-3 innings of a 10-7 loss to St. Louis on June 16, but he bounced back from his shortest outing in nearly seven years to beat Houston on Wednesday.

Chen (6-6, 4.81), pitching on only three days' rest due to the short previous start, allowed one run while striking out six in 5 2-3 innings.

"It has been a long road," Chen told the team's official website. "It always feels like we're trying to catch up to .500. This team is a very good team. Everyone wants to win."

Kansas City had lost five straight to Tampa Bay prior to Monday's victory, but it has won three of the last four meetings at home.

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