ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Chris Archer again looked anything like a 24-year-old in his first pennant race.
The right-hander dominated the Los Angeles Angels for seven innings and closer Fernando Rodney redeemed himself after blowing a save attempt on Tuesday as the Tampa Bay Rays rolled to a 4-1 win on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field.
Joel Peralta and Rodney held the Angels (59-72) hitless a night after Los Angeles scored twice in the ninth off Rodney to steal a win. Rodney struck out Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton to earn his 31st save.
Tampa Bay improved to 75-56 and remained in control of the top American League wild-card spot as it ended a three-game losing streak. The Rays remain 2 ½ games behind Boston in the American League East.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said the win was important, but not more than any other even considering Rodney's bounceback effort, and didn't want any "extra weight" placed on a single game.
"We were very business-like in our approach," he said. "They didn't like what happened (Tuesday) night."
Archer (8-5) was certainly business-like and efficient, retiring 20 of the first 25 batters. He allowed one run on five hits with five strikeouts in seven innings. The right-hander has gone seven innings in each of his past three starts, not allowing more than four hits or two runs. He is the only Rays pitcher to last seven or more innings in the last nine games, and he's done it twice.
"I was feeling pretty good with my fastball but the key overall was the exquisite defense," Archer said. "We made some awesome plays which saved me pitches, which allowed me to kind of throw a few more pitches than I wanted to in the seventh and still stay in the game."
The Angels bunched two of their hits to account for their only run off him in the seventh on a Kole Calhoun sacrifice fly.
Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. David DeJesus (2-for-3, two runs, RBI) led off with a double and moved to third on a Ben Zobrist single, then scored on Matt Joyce's sacrifice fly to left field.
The Rays added three more runs to chase Angels starter Garrett Richards in the fourth. Desmond Jennings and Jose Lobaton began the rally with singles. Following a Yunel Escobar sacrifice bunt, DeJesus banged an RBI single off Richards' shin. The pitcher remained in the game but allowed Zobrist's run-scoring single.
"He got in some tough counts, and he just couldn't seem to make that good pitch when he needed it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Shortstop Erick Aybar then muffed an Evan Longoria grounder to give the Rays a 4-0 margin.
Richards (4-6) took the loss in his shortest outing of the season, allowing four runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings.
"I was just off tonight," he said. "I just didn't have it from the beginning. Arm felt good. Body felt good. Just wasn't there tonight."
Zobrist finished 2-for-4. J.B Schuck went 2-for-4 for the Angels.
NOTES: The Rays extended a club record and season-high for the majors with their 17th game without issuing a walk. ... The Rays are expected to recall RHP Jake Odorizzi (0-0, 6.00) from Triple-A Durham to start Thursday against the Angels. He has made three starts over two stints with Tampa Bay this season. ... Hamilton started at DH on Wednesday after being removed in the ninth inning Tuesday because of a sore throwing shoulder. ... Rays manager Joe Maddon expects Jeremy Hellickson to return to the team next week after the right-hander was optioned to Class A Charlotte for rest. The Rays have not announced when Hellickson will start again. ... Through Tuesday, 24 of the Angels' 71 losses were by one run. ... Trout hit his 23rd homer Tuesday and stole his 29th base in the first inning Wednesday. He is the only player in the majors with at least 20 homers and 25 stolen bases.