Cruz's three-run homer beats Rays after classic Hernandez-Archer duel



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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — The Rays provided Chris Archer with no relief.

Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer in the ninth off Brad Boxberger after Archer pitched two-hit ball for eight innings Wednesday and the Seattle Mariners handed the Tampa Bay Rays their fifth straight loss 3-0.

Boxberger gave up Cruz's 18th home run after two walks.

"I didn't see the location of Boxberger's pitch," Archer said, "but one mistake to probably the best home run hitter in the game right now, and that was the game."

Hernandez pitched a four-hitter to become the major's first eight-game winner and the Mariners completed their first three-game road sweep of the Rays since 2000.

Hernandez (8-1) got four double plays in his second shutout this season. It was his first win at Tropicana Field after going 0-2 in four previous starts.

"Every time you face a guy like (Archer), your level's got to be up," Hernandez said. "I was not pumped. I was calm, throwing my good pitches to keep us in the game and win the game."

Boxberger (2-3) relieved after Archer tied a career high with 12 strikeouts. The right-hander had stretches where he retired 12 and 11 batters in a row.

"I always want to stay in the game," said Archer. "I had a good talk with (pitching coach Jim) Hickey and (manager Kevin) Cash, and I understand their reasoning behind why I came out. But I felt so good and my pitches were relatively low (95), and I knew that Felix was going back out and I wanted to be the guy to put another zero on the board."

Cash explained that he gave "very little" thought to bringing Archer out for the ninth inning "because I just didn't know what kind of position we were putting him into. If a guy gets on base, we're pulling him most likely ... you try to take care of the reliever and Arch, and put them in a position to succeed."

Archer allowed just two runners, a first-inning double by Seth Smith and Logan Morrison's single in the fifth. Left fielder David DeJesus took away an extra-base hit from Smith with a lunging catch on a sixth-inning opposite-field liner.

Hernandez has not allowed a run in three of his last four starts against the Rays, who have been shut out six times this season.

"He had us off-balance and made some really good pitches with runners on, and got three or four double plays," said Kevin Kiermaier. "You knew before the game it was going to be a pitchers's duel and it didn't surprise me one bit."

Kiermaier left the game after being hit on the right ankle by a pitch in the sixth inning. X-rays were negative.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: CF Austin Jackson is 1 for 9 in two games since returning from a sprained right ankle. He struck out in all four at-bats Wednesday.

Rays: Manager Kevin Cash is hopeful SS Asdrubal Cabrera (groin) and RF Steven Souza Jr. (left wrist) will be back in the lineup Friday. ... LHP Matt Moore (elbow surgery) will start his second extended spring training game Thursday. ... OF Desmond Jennings (left knee), who has missed 30 games, is playing catch.

UP NEXT

Mariners: LHP James Paxton (3-2) will face reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, RHP Corey Kluber (2-5), and Cleveland Thursday night.

Rays: Tampa Bay starts a 10-game road trip Friday night at Baltimore.?

MOVING DAY

RHP Grant Balfour, pitching at Triple-A Durham, asked for and was granted his release. The Rays re-signed Balfour to a minor league deal after designating him for assignment in April and then releasing him. ... INF Ryan Brett (shoulder) and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser (shoulder) have been sent to Durham on rehab assignments.

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