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TB@HOU: Archer strikes out five over six innings

Growing with each start he makes for the Rays, right-hander Chris Archer is learning on the job.

He'll make just his 12th career start and eighth of the season on Tuesday against the Twins at Tropicana Field in the second of a four-game set.

Focused on having command of his fastball, Archer continues to progress with each start. While he has pitched through the seventh inning only once this season, Archer has allowed just six runs in 17 innings over his last three starts.

He allowed only two runs on two hits in six innings against the Astros on Independence Day. He didn't get a decision in a 7-5 win, and struck out five and walked three.

"He's figuring out himself regarding pitch usage, when to throw this or that," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "The game awareness regarding holding runners will come in time. He continues to understand himself better as he pitches, meaning when do I use the different weapons that I have."

Archer will face fellow youngster Kyle Gibson, who is making just his third career start.

While the right-hander was impressive in his first start against the Royals, allowing two runs in six innings for the win, Gibson struggled in his last start against the Yankees.

In trouble from the beginning of Thursday's game, Gibson allowed eight runs on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings for the loss.

The Twins would love a solid outing from Gibson with their bullpen continually overworked this season. Tossing two innings in Monday's 7-4 loss, Minnesota's relievers have pitched 297 1/3 innings this season, the third most in the American League.

"You would like to see the starters go longer in each outing," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. That's our goal, to have our starters get that ball to the guy at the end, and let Glen Perkins do some damage. We've just got to find a way to get there."

Twins: Harden making progress in rehab
Minnesota right-hander Rich Harden is continuing to make progress in his lengthy recovery from right shoulder surgery.

Harden is set to throw live batting practice this week, according to Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony, and he has felt no soreness in his lat, forearm or shoulder.

"There have been no setbacks this go-round. Everything's felt good. Every report, every time he's thrown a bullpen or done anything, it's been positive," Antony said. "So hopefully he can continue to progress."

Rays: Cobb throws second bullpen session
Tampa Bay Right-hander Alex Cobb threw a second bullpen session on Monday as he continues to progress after sustaining a concussion on June 15.

He threw 47 pitches in the session after throwing 27 in his first bullpen session on Friday. Cobb is scheduled to throw another on Thursday.

"The way I feel off the field versus the last time I threw a bullpen is 10 times better," Cobb said. "There isn't a huge difference on the mound. I felt good enough last time, even when I didn't feel great off the field. That's a good sign. Pitching isn't as taxing on my head as I thought it would be."

Cobb struggled with vertigo because of fluid trapped in his inner ear, but it continues to decrease daily and he is well ahead of the pace Tampa Bay's training staff originally mapped out for him.

Worth noting
• Luke Scott is hitting .368 (21-for-57) with 11 RBIs over his last 18 games. Of those 21 hits, 12 have been for extra bases, including his sixth home run of the year on Monday.

• With a home run in Monday's game, Twins first baseman Justin Morneau tied Bob Allison for fourth on the Twins' all-time home run list with 211. He needs nine more to tie Tony Oliva for third.

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