ST. PETERSBURG - It was "here we go again" time for RHP Roberto Hernandez, who was down 3-0 just five batters into Saturday's game with the big blow being a two-run homer by 1B Brett Wallace.
But Hernandez settled down and allowed two hits over the next five innings to earn his fifth win of the season when the Rays rallied for a 4-3 victory.
"When I had trouble in the first inning I forgot about that," Hernandez said. "The next inning, forgot about it and continued to pitch."
Hernandez retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced. He did so by pitching with more conviction, according to manager Joe Maddon.
"It's huge. Say you're throwing 92 (miles per hour), I think an assertive 92 with conviction is a lot better than a 92 minus conviction," Maddon said.
Hernandez won for the first time since June 11 and avoided becoming the third pitcher in team history to lose 11 games before the All-Star break.
He also extended the Rays' club-record streak of consecutive quality starts to 14, the longest active streak of its kind in the major leagues.
3B Evan Longoria fell to 7-for-56 over his last 16 games after going 0-for-4 in Saturday's win. He's 4-for-33 on this homestand, though he has drawn six walks.
While Longoria is disappointed that he was not named to the American League All-Star team, Maddon said Longoria will benefit from the four days off.
"He could definitely use it for his foot," Maddon said. "But I know him and he's definitely played well enough (to be an All-Star).
"It's just not happening this year."
Big step for Cobb
RHP Alex Cobb is scheduled to take a big step in his return from his concussion/vertigo this afternoon when he throws live batting practice at the Trop.
"This is obviously a much bigger one with hitters in there and getting that feel," Cobb said. "You can't simulate the feel of a hitter being in the box in a bullpen session. This will be a big step in that process and then hopefully be able to move on to more of a game-like situation after that."
If all goes well today Cobb believes he can throw a simulated game during the All-Star break. If that goes well, he thinks he will move to the final step, which is a minor league rehab start.
Cobb is hoping he can make it back to the Rays after two or three rehab starts.
Archer gets ready
RHP Chris Archer, who faces the Astros today, threw a short 10-pitch bullpen Saturday.
The unusual move is part of Archer's routine.
"Just to get a feel," Archer said. "It's 10 throws just to get downhill because we do a lot of flat throwing in between (starts). I'm trying to be as comfortable as possible on the day that I start and that's what helps me out."
Maddon said Warren Spahn used to have his pitchers do that when he was a minor league pitching coach in the Angels system.
On Friday LHP David Price became the first pitcher since Roy Halladay in 2006 to throw back-to-back complete games by throwing fewer than 100 pitches in each game - 98 against the White Sox and 87 against the Astros.
Price's 17 balls were the fewest in a nine-inning complete game since Johan Santana of the Twins did it May 6, 2005, against the Devil Rays.
Price has also thrown 25 consecutive innings without a walk, one shy of the club record shared by James Shields (2007) and Jeremy Hellickson (2013).
One more: Price has had only one three-ball count in those 25 innings since returning from the DL.
Kevin Barr, the Rays' strength and conditioning coach, will be the strength and conditioning coach for the American League team at Tuesday's All-Star game at Citi Field in New York. . The post-All-Star break rotation will be Price, Hellickson, Chris Archer, LHP Matt Moore and Hernandez. . Rays starting pitchers are 9-2 with a 2.09 ERA in the last 14 games. . The Rays have scored four or fewer runs in seven of their last eight games. They are 6-1 in those games.