Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit, Saturday, July 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) ASSOCIATED PRESS
DETROIT — Anibal Sanchez was about halfway to a no-hitter when he allowed a home run to Tampa Bay’s Logan Forsythe.
Then came a walk by Ryan Hanigan, and before Sanchez knew it, the Rays had broken the game open.
“I don’t know when everything changed,” Sanchez said. “I know we had a pretty good game plan going for four innings.”
Sanchez allowed three runs in the fifth and four in the sixth, and the Detroit Tigers lost 7-2 to Tampa Bay on Saturday.
Sanchez, the American League ERA champion last season, had gone 32 starts without allowing more than four earned runs.
Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer (5-5) came within two outs of a complete game, holding the Tigers to six hits.
The 25-year-old right-hander allowed solo homers to Alex Avila in the seventh and J.D. Martinez in the ninth.
“He was hitting the corners well. He came out and he started throwing 96 up and in, down and away, down and in,” Martinez said. “He was just hitting spots. I felt like he really didn’t miss a lot over the middle today. You throw 96 with movement and you’re hitting corners like that, you’re going to be tough.”
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon finally pulled Archer with two on and one out in the ninth after 106 pitches.
“There was 25 outs that I did get, and those are the ones that I’m going to focus on,” Archer said.
Sanchez (5-3) took a no-hitter into the fifth, but things unraveled quickly. He allowed seven runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings, with four walks and a strikeout.
Logan Forsythe homered for Tampa Bay.
Archer struck out four and walked four, and he helped himself with two marvelous defensive plays. In the sixth inning, he snagged a comebacker by Martinez and threw to first for the out, and in the eighth, Archer fell to the ground while backhanding Austin Jackson’s line drive up the middle.
“That ball hit him right in the glove. That was Jackson, I believe,” Maddon said. “He has no idea how he caught that. That’s a play when the ball catches you.”
Kevin Kiermaier had three hits for Tampa Bay, including triples in the fifth and sixth. The Rays have won seven of eight.
The Tigers were without designated hitter Victor Martinez, who left Friday night’s game because of back irritation.
Sanchez didn’t allow a hit until Forsythe’s drive carried over the fence in left-center field with one out in the fifth. The Rays poured it on after that.
After a walk to Hanigan, Kiermaier’s drive bounced off the wall and past J.D. Martinez in right, enabling Hanigan to score. With the infield in, Desmond Jennings lined a single to make it 3-0.
“I really like the way we’re swinging the bats right now,” Kiermaier said. “Everyone’s doing their part, and we’re all staying positive and we’re having so much fun out there on the field.”
Matt Joyce and Evan Longoria singled to start the sixth, and after a walk to James Loney loaded the bases, Brandon Guyer brought another run home with a sacrifice fly. Forsythe’s RBI single made it 5-0, and Kiermaier’s two-out, two-run triple off reliever Phil Coke capped the rally.
Archer appeared headed for his third career complete game, but he allowed a homer, a single and a walk in the ninth.
Grant Balfour came on and struck out the final two batters in a non-save situation.
“Archer, he was pretty good. He had some poise on the mound for a young guy and explosive fastball,” Detroit’s Torii Hunter said. “Had the two-seamers in and out, good slider. He’s definitely one of the best young pitchers in the game.”
NOTES: Detroit reliever Patrick McCoy left the game in the ninth with a right hamstring strain. ... Detroit RHP Rick Porcello (11-4) faces Tampa Bay ace David Price (7-7) today.