- Associated Press - Sunday, June 7, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - Watching Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer make baseball history proved to be the final moment in a homestand the Seattle Mariners would prefer to forget.

“You can’t explain what works, but it was weird,” Seattle slugger Nelson Cruz said. “We did all we could do to get it done, but it wasn’t there.”

Archer made his share of history on Sunday, becoming the first pitcher in more than 100 years to reach double-digits in strikeouts without a walk in three straight starts, leading the Rays over the Mariners 3-1 Sunday.

Archer (7-4) fanned 11 with zero walks in seven innings. STATS found no other pitcher with such a string in its research dating to 1914.

The performance by Archer left Seattle just 2-9 on its longest homestand of the season. After coming off the road at .500, the Mariners dropped to a season-worst seven games under with a punchless offense and shaky bullpen unable to back its starting pitching.

The Mariners failed to score more than three runs in any game of the stay at Safeco Field, scoring a total of 21 runs and just four runs in four games against the Rays.

“Right now, we are snake bit and we’ve got to come out of it,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “The only way to come out of it is to keep grinding it out. We are easy pickings right now … (but) things will get better.”

Archer had five three-ball counts and gave up six hits, along with an unearned run. After striking out 12 against Seattle on May 27 and 15 vs. the Angels last Tuesday, he won his fourth straight decision overall.

But Seattle did get opportunities against Archer, none with more potential than the fourth inning when Seth Smith led off with a double and Cruz added an infield single to put runners on the corners with no outs. Archer struck out Kyle Seager and Mark Trumbo on six pitches.

With Logan Morrison at the plate, Cruz attempted a delayed steal of second but was caught in a rundown and couldn’t stay in it long enough for Smith to score.

Cruz said he missed a sign and thought he was supposed to steal when he was just supposed to bluff.

“I’ll tell you what, if my general manager thought I put that play on, I should be fired. (Cruz) thought he saw something that wasn’t there,” McClendon said. “Players make mistakes and when you are not playing well it’s all hyped up and blown out of proportion. Nobody feels worse than Nelson.”

Archer struck out at least one batter in every inning. Cruz and Brad Miller were the only two not to go down on strikes against the hard-throwing righty. Miller had an RBI single in the seventh was set up by shortstop Nick Franklin’s error, but Seattle scored only one despite having runners at first and second and no outs.

Archer pulled on a T-shirt after the game that appropriately read “Make History” across the front.

“I guess he’s putting himself in his own class now,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Very impressive. He just keeps giving us opportunities to win over and over.”

SOLID START

Lost in Archer’s performance was another solid start from Seattle’s Mike Montgomery against his former team. Montgomery threw seven innings and allowed an RBI single to Logan Forsythe in the first and Mikie Mahtook’s solo homer in the seventh.

Montgomery’s one walk led to the first run of the game. Jake Elmore walked in the top of the first, and scored from second base on Forsythe’s soft liner into center field.

“I was a little wild in the beginning, trying to battle to throw strokes and get ahead,” Montgomery said.

TRAINER’S ROOM:

Rays: 3B Evan Longoria was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game but came on as a pinch-runner in the eighth.

Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma threw a second bullpen session on Sunday as he continues to recover from back and side muscle injuries. He will have at least one more bullpen.

UP NEXT

Rays: Tampa Bay has an off day Monday before opening a homestand against the Los Angeles Angels. Nathan Kearns (3-2) will start the opener.

Mariners: Seattle has an off day on Monday before starting an eight-game road trip in Cleveland. Roenis Elias (2-3) starts the opener against the Indians.

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