Rays-Red Sox Preview

The Associated Press

Chris Archer has had an up-and-down season after signing a six-year deal with the Tampa Bay Rays worth $25.5 million.

Archer, who has been dominant in his two home starts but spotty on the road, takes the mound for the struggling Rays in the second game of a day-night doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Thursday.

Before Archer can try turning things around on the road, the Rays look to end a three-game skid behind left-hander Cesar Ramos (1-1, 3.38 ERA), who opposes Jake Peavy in the opener.

Ramos, inserted into the rotation due to injuries, is coming off his first victory after working five innings in a 4-0 win over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday.

Red Sox manager John Farrell moved Peavy (1-0, 2.87) up to start the first game after the right-hander went seven innings - his longest outing of the season - and gave up five hits with seven strikeouts in an 8-1 victory Friday at Toronto.

"Personal preference of maybe a little bit more known commodity as far as dependability and getting deeper into the (first) game," Farrell told the Red Sox's official website. "Not to say it's always a guarantee, but that's what you go by, knowing you've got a guy that can hopefully keep a bullpen from getting overexposed early and look to have guys fresh for Game 2."

While Archer (2-1, 4.11) has gone 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA in a pair of starts at home for Tampa Bay (11-16), he's 0-1 with a 5.50 ERA in his three road outings.

After he impressed in his first road start April 8, working seven innings in Tampa Bay's 1-0 win at Kansas City, the right-hander has allowed 11 earned runs over 11 innings in his previous two away from home.

Archer struggled in his only career start at Fenway last season, giving up four runs on five hits with five walks over 4 2-3 innings of a 5-1 loss June 8, and he doesn't want to let this AL East rivalry get the better of him.

"I have to consciously control it, because I don't want the emotion of the rivalry (to affect my performance), because they're our biggest rival," Archer, who has walked 13 in 13 2-3 innings over three career starts against Boston, told the Rays' official website. "I don't know if we're theirs, but that's irrelevant. They're our biggest rival."

In his most recent start, Archer didn't receive a decision after allowing four runs on nine hits in six innings of a 9-6 road loss to the White Sox on Friday.

After the Rays went 7-12 against Boston last season, including 4-6 at Fenway, the Red Sox opened this year's 19-game series with a 7-4 victory in Tuesday's opener before Wednesday's game was rained out.

Shane Victorino had four hits and his first two RBIs of the season, and John Lackey pitched eight strong innings in Boston's third win in four games.

Victorino, activated from the disabled list last week after missing the first 22 games with a hamstring injury, raised his batting average from .133 to .316. He singled three times, hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth and had an RBI double in a five-run sixth.

Taking the hill for Boston (13-14) in the second game will be Felix Doubront (1-3, 6.00), who was hit hard by the New York Yankees his last time out.

The left-hander lasted only 2 2-3 innings, giving up seven runs - three earned - in a 14-5 defeat last Thursday to the Yankees, who have handed Doubront two of his losses.

Doubront went 0-2 with a 2.55 ERA in four starts against the Rays last season, getting a total of two runs of support in the 24 2-3 innings he pitched.

He lost the last two, both at Fenway, after allowing five earned runs over 11 2-3 innings as David Price shut down the Red Sox in each meeting.

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