August 14, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays scored a franchise-record 35 runs in their past three games, but as they seek to close out a three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres on Wednesday, the question is whether the run support will spill over to Chris Archer.

Tuesday's beneficiary, Blake Snell, was receiving a staff-low average of 2.55 runs in his starts before the Rays unloaded for a 13-1 win. Close behind is Archer, who has the next-lowest run support on the staff at 2.72 runs per start.

"What an offensive show we put on tonight," Rays manager Kevin Cash said after Tuesday's win. "That was fun to sit there and be a part of. Everybody, again, played a part. A lot of home runs and a lot of good at-bats. We've just got guys that are seeing the ball really well right now."

Archer (6-16, 4.39 ERA) leads the majors in losses -- former teammate James Shields of the Chicago White Sox is next closest with 14 -- and is in danger of becoming baseball's first 20-game loser since Detroit's Mike Maroth in 2003. He lost three of his last four outings despite making three quality starts in that stretch.

His mound opponent in the series finale, Padres left-hander Christian Friedrich (4-8, 4.84 ERA), is enduring a similar lack of support. San Diego was shut out in his last start, and the team produced six runs total in his past three outings.

Over his past 10 starts, Friedrich has allowed fewer than three runs just once, and he has allowed four-plus runs eight times. He is 1-7 with a 6.58 ERA in that span.

Friedrich, like Archer, has never previously faced his Wednesday opponent.

Padres manager Andy Green is more concerned about his team's offensive woes -- six total runs during a four-game losing streak -- than about Friedrich's work.

"We've had a complete roster overhaul -- we were built in the first half with Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton, guys that handle left-handed pitching very well," Green said. "Where we are right now, with the bulk of our power, you've got (Alex) Dickerson, (Ryan) Schimpf, (Travis) Jankowski, they're not nearly as ideal matchups as those types of guys. That's not an excuse, it's a reason."

The 35 runs by the Rays in three games trumped the 31 runs they scored in May in a three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays. Tampa Bay has just one series sweep since -- taking three at home against the New York Yankees from July 29-31 -- but it has a chance for another against the Padres.

"We hit a ton of balls hard," said Rays infielder Brad Miller, who hit two home runs Tuesday and now has 18 since June 17, the second most in the majors during that span. "Even a lot of outs, they made some good plays on some balls.

"A lot of fun. I like how we kept it going. Nobody gave away at-bats. ... I'm just trying to have good at-bats."

San Diego has dropped seven of its past nine but hasn't been swept in a series since immediately after the All-Star break.

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