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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, June 19 (All times Eastern)

Houston Astros (32-41) at Tampa Bay Rays (28-45), 7:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Houston - Collin McHugh (4-4, 3.03) Tampa Bay - Chris Archer (3-4, 3.40)

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Rays haven't had much to brag about lately. In fact, the only series they've won in the last three weeks came with the Houston Astros on the losing side of the ledger.

So when those Astros visit Tropicana Field for the first of a four-game weekend series on Thursday night, you can't blame the Rays for mustering up what little optimism they can.

Tampa Bay has won just five of its last 22 games and the Rays have the worst record in the big leagues, but they won two of three games from the Astros last week in Houston and have won 12 of their last 15 games against the Astros overall.

The Rays followed the Houston series win with a 1-2 series against Baltimore, in which they scored 10 runs in three games. The finale on Wednesday was a 2-0 loss, the 11th time in 47 losses in which they've been held scoreless.

"We just didn't hit," manager Joe Maddon said. "How many times have I had to say that this year?"

Right-hander Chris Archer gets the start for the Rays.

In 2013, he was 1-0 in two starts with a stingy 1.20 earned run average, including a shutout victory in Tampa Bay. But last week in Houston, he was dinged for six runs in three innings of a 7-3 loss.

The Astros go with right-hander Collin McHugh, who's winless in two starts after winning two in a row.

McHugh gave up four runs on five hits in five innings while losing to the Rays, 6-1, on Friday.

On Wednesday in Washington, Nate McLouth's go-ahead sacrifice fly in a three- run seventh inning led the Nationals to a 6-5 victory over the Astros.

Jose Altuve supplied two hits and Matt Dominguez drove in two runs for Houston, which has dropped three straight games. Reliever Darin Downs (1-1) was tagged with the loss after giving up a run and failing to record an out in the seventh.

Starter Scott Feldman only lasted five innings and gave up two runs on six hits and three walks.

"I don't like going five," Feldman said. "It's tough to see (the bullpen) getting abused."

In Tampa Bay, Scott Pearce broke a scoreless tie with an RBI double in the fifth and Nelson Cruz crushed his major league-leading 22nd homer of the season, as the Orioles defeated the Rays.

Alex Cobb (2-5) was the tough-luck loser for Tampa, which has dropped two in a row. The right-hander allowed one unearned run on four hits over seven frames. He struck out six and walked four.

06/19 10:44:30 ET

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