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American League Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, July 4th (All times Eastern)
Tampa Bay Rays (45-40) at Houston Astros (31-54), 2:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - Chris Archer (2-3, 4.40) Houston - Jordan Lyles (4-3, 3.99)
(Sports Network) - Young right-hander Jordan Lyles can end a two-start skid and salvage a series split for the Houston Astros on a holiday Thursday afternoon when they host the Tampa Bay Rays in the finale of a four-game series at Minute Paid Park.
Lyles, who won't turn 23 until October, won four of his first five decisions in 2013 after winning just five times in 17 decisions across 25 starts in all of 2012.
He dropped a 14-6 decision to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on June 23, then dropped to 4-3 after a home loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on June 29.
In the two games combined, he gave up 15 hits and 12 runs in nine innings of work while walking three batters and striking out four.
Lyles has never faced the Rays.
For Tampa Bay, fellow youngster Chris Archer makes his seventh start of 2013 and the 11th of his brief big-league career.
Now 24, Archer was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2006 before heading to the Chicago Cubs as part of a four-player trade in 2008. He was then shipped to the Rays as part of an eight-player transaction in 2011.
He's gone 13-12 in 37 starts at the Rays' Triple-A affiliate and 3-6 in 12 career appearances in the big leagues with Tampa Bay since last season.
He was a 3-1 winner at Yankee Stadium on June 23 to improve to 2-3 this season and has pitched once since, getting a no-decision in the Rays' 4-3 victory over Detroit on June 29.
He has never faced the Astros.
On Wednesday, Chris Carter had two home runs, including a go-ahead three-run shot in the bottom of the seventh, and the Astros snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory.
In the seventh, Brett Wallace hit a leadoff double and Jason Castro delivered a single to right, placing runners at the corners. With a full count, Carter fouled off a pair of pitches before clubbing the eighth pitch thrown by the Rays reliever Jake McGee over the left-field wall.
McGee took over for Tampa Bay starter Roberto Hernandez (4-10), who was tagged with the loss after giving up the first two hits in the seventh.
Houston starter Bud Norris (6-7) allowed one run on six hits and three walks in seven innings to earn his first win since June 1 against the Angels. Jose Veras pitched a scoreless ninth to notch his 17th save.
"I was very happy to see (Norris) pitch as well as he pitched," said Astros manager Bo Porter. "He's had a lot of games where he's pitched good enough to win but our offense just wasn't there."
Ben Zobrist drove in the lone run for the Rays, who had a four-game winning streak snapped. Hernandez suffered his fourth consecutive loss, surrendering three runs over six-plus innings.
"(Hernandez has) got really good mound composure. He pitched really well and kept us in the game, but Carter hurt us," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "Everything's good, we just haven't scored any runs with him."
Tampa Bay swept a three-game series with the Astros in their last set of meetings in 2011. The teams entered this week tied, 6-6, in their all-time series.
07/04 10:21:19 ET
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