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Ortiz, Red Sox pay a visit to Rays

(SportsNetwork.com) - If it were hockey, they'd almost surely be dropping gloves.

Instead, the faceoff between Tampa Bay pitcher Chris Archer and Boston slugger David Ortiz will come from 60 feet, 6 inches apart when the Red Sox visit the Rays on Friday night for the first of four games at Tropicana Field.

Ortiz hit a three-run home run off Archer in a July 27 at Tropicana Field, and Archer was not pleased with Ortiz's bat-flip celebration following the blast, with the pitcher claiming the hitter believed he was "bigger than the game."

The loss in that game dropped Archer to 1-3 with a 4.75 earned run average in six career meetings with the Red Sox.

"Agitated is not the right word. Angry is not the right word," Archer said. "He pimped a home run off me. Not mad, just speak the truth."

Archer has allowed home runs this season at the third most infrequent rate in the majors.

Meanwhile, Ortiz wasn't pleased to be called out by a comparative newcomer.

"There's always going to be comments like that," he said.. "And he's not the right guy to be saying that. I don't think, you know, you got two days in the league, you can't be just (whining) and complaining about (things) like that."

More recently, Archer has strung together eight starts in his last 10 outings in which he's pitched at least six innings and surrendered three or fewer earned runs. In his last assignment, on Sunday, he threw seven innings and allowed one run in a game the Rays ultimately won, 2-1, in 10 innings against Toronto.

In his last four starts, he's posted a 1.40 ERA and struck out 30 batters in 25 2/3 innings.

Ortiz, incidentally, has four home runs and 10 runs batted in over his last 11 games.

The Rays have lost eight of 12 to fall eight games off the pace of the second American League wild card position. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have dropped nine of 11 and are in last place in the AL East a season after winning the World Series.

Coming up from Triple-A Pawtucket for Friday's start is youngster Anthony Ranaudo, who was the International League's Most Valuable Pitcher this season while compiling a 14-4 record and a 2.61 ERA in 24 starts.

He's given up six runs in 12 innings on the big league level this year, but hasn't pitched for the Red Sox since defeating Cincinnati, 5-4, on Aug. 13.

On Thursday in Baltimore, J.J. Hardy broke a tie game with an RBI single in the seventh inning and the Orioles held on to top Tampa Bay, 5-4, in the finale of a four-game AL East series.

Evan Longoria homered and drove in two of Tampa Bay's runs.

On Wednesday in Toronto, Danny Valencia's three-run homer came in a four-run seventh inning and helped the Blue Jays take down Boston, 5-2, in the finale of a three-game set.

Ortiz had two hits and drove in a run for the Red Sox, who had taken the first two games in the series in extra innings.

Tommy Layne (1-1) was charged with the unearned go-ahead run while failing to record an out in relief of Joe Kelly. Kelly left after six-plus frames and allowed just three hits and two runs.

08/29 10:37:28 ET