A slow start this season had many wondering what was wrong with the talent-laden Los Angeles Angels . They appeared to get back on track with a strong stretch, but those questions are sure to come up again after arguably their worst loss of the season.
Avoiding a four-game sweep by the surging Tampa Bay Rays figured to be difficult enough given the previous night's outcome, but the Angels will have the extra task of facing a red-hot Matt Moore on Sunday.
The Angels (62-59) turned things around by winning 25 of 33 from May 22-June 28 and were within three games of AL West-leading Texas on July 31. They've been unable to sustain that success, however, and are 5-12 this month, dropping into third place in the division and eight games behind the Rangers.
After watching ace Jered Weaver endure the worst start of his career Friday, the Angels appeared to have righted the ship by building an 8-0 lead in the third inning Saturday. The Rays, though, scored seven times in the fifth off Wilson and Carlos Pena 's pinch-hit two-run homer in the eighth lifted Tampa Bay to a stunning 10-8 victory.
"Obviously, C.J. lost his release point. And when you've got an eight-run lead, you can't walk people," Scioscia said. "He got behind in counts and ended up putting some guys on. It's definitely disappointing."
It was the third straight win and 10th in 12 games for the Rays (66-54), who pulled within five games of AL East-leading New York and remained atop the wild-card standings.
"I really felt all along that we had a chance, and I mean that sincerely," manager Joe Maddon said. "Wilson wasn't as sharp as he normally can be, and we've been doing a nice job of scoring runs."
The Rays have outscored Los Angeles 34-11 in winning the last five meetings - a streak that began with three consecutive shutouts - and are 8-1 in the season series.
Tampa Bay's surge has been keyed by its 2.34 ERA during the 10-2 overall stretch.
No starter on the team - and perhaps in the league - has been better than Moore (9-7, 3.60 ERA) lately. The rookie continued his outstanding run Tuesday at Seattle, yielding one run and six hits while striking out nine in seven innings, but he was denied a fourth straight winning start when closer Fernando Rodney blew the save.
In six starts since the All-Star break, the left-hander is 4-1 with a 1.43 ERA. He has not allowed a home run in his past eight outings, going 52 2-3 innings since last serving one up.
Moore is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts against the Angels this season, scattering four hits over 6 1-3 innings in a 3-0 win in Anaheim on July 28.
That was the kind of pitching the Angels envisioned Zack Greinke would provide when they acquired him from Milwaukee on July 27, but the right-hander is 1-1 with a 5.54 ERA in four starts with his new team.
He was very good in his first outing with Los Angeles two days after the trade, limiting the Rays to two runs with eight strikeouts over seven innings of a 2-0 loss.
Since then, however, Greinke has posted a 6.63 ERA over three outings. The 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner did earn his first victory with the Angels in his most recent appearance, yielding four runs in seven innings of a 9-6 win over Cleveland on Tuesday.
Greinke has given up two runs or fewer in four straight and six of his past seven starts against the Rays.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|August 05, 2012||Ben Zobrist||Day-to-Day||Left game - upper back spasms|
|July 21, 2012||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
|July 21, 2012||Alex Cobb||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee contusion|
|July 02, 2012||Hideki Matsui||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|June 30, 2012||Jeremy Hellickson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right shin|
|June 29, 2012||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|August 13, 2012||C.J. Wilson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left hand|
|July 30, 2012||Mark Trumbo||Day-to-Day||Back spasms|
|July 30, 2012||Dan Haren||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|July 29, 2012||Mike Trout||Day-to-Day||Left knee contusion|
|July 29, 2012||Scott Downs||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
|July 29, 2012||Scott Downs||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Rays made Felix Hernandez 's perfect game look even more impressive by roughing up the Los Angeles Angels during an impressive four-game series sweep.
Matt Moore shrugged off home runs by Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to win his fourth straight decision, and the Rays beat the fading Angels 8-3 on Sunday.
Tampa Bay tagged Zack Greinke (1-2) and outscored the Angels 37-14 in the series - setting a franchise record for runs in a four-game set. The offensive barrage immediately followed Hernandez's gem for the Mariners on Wednesday.
"I really believe that's a testament to our players and the way they are able to put things in the trash can immediately afterwards if something bad happens," manager Joe Maddon said. "If you carry negativity around with you, nothing good can happen. So we just put it in our rearview mirror, then came out and played great down here."
Angels starting pitchers were 2-6 with a 7.57 ERA and allowed 13 homers during their 10-game homestand, forcing an injury-depleted bullpen to eat up 35 1-3 innings. In this series, Greinke, Dan Haren , Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson combined to give up 27 earned runs and six homers in 17 1-3 innings.
"I have all the respect in the world for them and their pitchers, but they had to face David Price , James Shields , Alex Cobb and Matt Moore - and they didn't even get a chance to see Jeremy Hellickson ," Maddon said. "I mean, they're good and they're formidable, but you have to beat good teams and good pitching to go to the promised land."
Ryan Roberts hit a two-run homer and Matt Joyce and Carlos Pena also drove in two runs apiece for the Rays. Tampa Bay won the season series 9-1 for its best showing against the Angels in the club's 15-year history.
Saturday night's 10-8 win, which Pena helped decide with a pinch-hit two-run homer in the eighth inning against Kevin Jepsen , made the Rays the first visiting team to beat the Angels after trailing by at least eight runs.
"Tampa had grit. We had them down 8-0 yesterday and they just didn't give up," Los Angeles outfielder Torii Hunter said. "That's a good ballclub over there, and their pitching staff is even better. They've probably got one of the best teams in the league, and they did what they had to do. They came in here and took four from us, which is tough to do with the ballclub we have. But the way we're playing right now, it's not hard."
The Angels are a season-worst nine games out of first place in the AL West after their 13th loss in 18 games, and trail Baltimore by 4 1/2 games for the second wild card in the AL.
"We've just got to wait our turn. Things have been going the other team's way lately, and the results have not been good, but we're just going to keep fighting," Hunter said. "I'm disappointed in the way we're playing, but we do have heart. We're going to play the game the right way and let things take its course."
Moore (10-7) allowed two runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings. The 23-year-old left-hander is 9-2 with a 2.79 ERA over his last 14 starts, including a 3-0 win on July 28 at Anaheim to begin his winning streak.
Greinke gave up six runs and seven hits over six innings in his fifth start for the Angels, who acquired the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner from Milwaukee for three prospects. He struck out eight and walked four.
The 28-year-old right-hander has allowed at least four earned runs in four consecutive starts for the first time in his nine-year career. He also dropped a 2-0 decision to the Rays on July 29 in his Angels debut.
The Rays grabbed a 4-0 lead in the second when Greinke hit No. 9 hitter Elliot Johnson on the leg with the bases loaded on his first pitch to him. Greinke forced home another run with a two-out walk to B.J. Upton before Joyce capped the burst with a two-run single.
"Elliot gets hit by the pitch and then B.J. gets the walk - those were the signature at-bats today, even though they didn't get hits. They were great at-bats," Tampa Bay star Evan Longoria said.
Moore had gone eight starts and 56 2-3 innings without allowing a home run until Trout led off the fourth with his 24th. But Roberts responded in the fifth with a drive into the left-field bullpen to extend Tampa Bay's lead to 6-1.
Moore gave up two-out singles to Erick Aybar and Vernon Wells in the fifth and appeared to be out of the jam when Bobby Wilson hit a foul pop. Catcher Jose Molina camped under it about 10 feet to the right of the plate, but first baseman Pena collided with him and elbowed him in the head as the ball popped loose, and Pena was charged with the Rays' only error of the series. Molina was checked out by a trainer and allowed to continue.
Moore walked Wilson on the next pitch, loading the bases, but retired Trout on a fly ball.
Pujols hit his 28th homer and 473rd of his career in the sixth, putting him two away from tying Stan Musial and Willie Stargell for 28th place.
NOTES: The Rays' previous record for runs in a four-game series was 35, in August 2007 against Oakland. ... The Angels activated RHP Jordan Walden from the disabled list after he missed 32 games with a biceps strain. He faced four batters in the eighth and struck out three. ... LHP Hisanori Takahashi was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake, leaving Downs as the only lefty in the Angels' bullpen. Downs came off the DL Saturday after missing 20 games because of a shoulder strain.