Twins-Rays Preview

The Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Rays' hitters and starting pitchers have led the way during the team's red-hot stretch.

A contributor to the Rays' string of strong starts, Chris Archer is hoping to see some more of that hitting prowess in his next outing.

Archer will try to help Tampa Bay match its longest win streak of the season Tuesday night against the scuffling Minnesota Twins.

The Rays, batting .297 with 56 runs during a 9-1 stretch, had half of their 12 hits for extra bases in Monday's series-opening 7-4 victory. Luke Scott, hitting .474 in his last six games, hit the first of Tampa Bay's three home runs in its fifth consecutive win.

"We're playing, probably, our best baseball right now," manager Joe Maddon said.

Desmond Jennings added two more hits to boost his average to .448 in the last seven games but the outfielder and his teammates have given Archer (2-3, 4.17 ERA) just 10 runs of support in his seven starts this season.

The 24-year-old right-hander has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last three outings but has gone winless in his last two in large part because of a combined four runs of support.

Archer gave up two runs, two hits and three walks over six innings Thursday in Houston but did not get a decision in a 7-5 victory.

"He's figuring out himself regarding pitch usage, when to throw this or that," Maddon told the team's website. "The game awareness regarding holding runners will come in time. He continues to understand himself better as he pitches, meaning when do I use the different weapons that I have."

In his next start, he'll face a team that's lost eight of nine overall and 11 of 14 on the road. The Twins (37-49), who have a 6.69 ERA in their last nine games, have also dropped a series-high six straight to Tampa Bay (50-40).

With stars Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau struggling at the plate, Minnesota is hoping rookie Kyle Gibson (1-1, 7.94) can help end that skid by returning to the form he showed in his major league debut.

The right-hander gave up two runs over six innings in a 6-2 win over Kansas City on June 29 but he was tagged for eight runs and 11 hits in 5 1-3 Thursday in a 9-5 loss to the Yankees.

"Every day there's guys that lose their job here in this game, and hopefully in five days I'll get another chance and go out there and throw better," Gibson said.

Mauer and Morneau will try to help their young teammates by ending their respective slumps. Mauer is 6 for 45 (.133) with 10 strikeouts in his last 12 games, and Morneau is 3 for 26 (.115) in his last eight but had a solo homer Monday.

The Rays will try to add to their woes while winning seven in a row at home for the first time since a 10-game run April 21-May 4, 2012.

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