Early offensive support puts Wilson on cruise control
Lefty tosses first complete game since 2011; Green hits two-run homer
ANAHEIM -- C.J. Wilson dominated on the mound, Grant Green hit his second career home run, and the Angels, taking advantage of Rays starter Cesar Ramos' continued early struggles, won 6-0 Saturday night at Angel Stadium.
Wilson (5-3) went the distance, allowed five hits, walked two and struck out seven. He recorded 13 groundouts, including three double plays. His only other shutout, and his last complete game, came on Sept. 6, 2011, in St. Petersburg, a five-hitter in an 8-0 Rangers victory.
"It's my first shutout here with the Angels," said Wilson, in his third season in Anaheim. "It's what you work for between outings, lifting weights and studying scouting reports."
The Rays loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, prompting a brief warm-up by reliever Joe Smith, but Wilson got James Loney to ground into a double play after a meeting with pitching coach Mike Butcher.
"It was a split-finger," said Wilson, who is is 18-5 in his past 29 starts. "I located it pretty well and we had a guy standing there, so it was good.
"The defense really bailed me out tonight. The offense gave me six runs to work with, which is plenty."
Rays manager Joe Maddon was very impressed with Wilson.
"He was good," Maddon said. "He was really good. Elevated his fastball when he wanted to. Got it underneath the righties with the breaking ball when he wanted to.
"He knows what he's doing. He's very competitive and he competed very well tonight."
Meanwhile, the Angels -- shut out Friday for the first time since July 21 (at Oakland) -- collected nine hits against Ramos (1-3) and his replacements.
Green's two-run shot to left-center in the third inning off reliever Brandon Gomes gave Wilson a 6-0 cushion.
"I think we did a good job early against Ramos, making him get balls into the strike zone," manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's all C.J. needed, obviously."
Wilson threw a season-high 127 pitches. He's thrown at least 111 in each of his nine starts this year, and has thrown at least 100 in each of his past 14 starts. That's the longest such stretch in the Major Leagues.
"He's shown the ability to maintain his stuff through a high pitch count," said Scioscia, who particularly relished the fact that Wilson was able to get through nine innings.
"Any time you can give your bullpen a total day off, you want to give it as much of a shot as you can -- within reason," Scioscia said.
It was the opposite extreme for Maddon, who deployed four relievers after Ramos' early ouster.
In his last start, Monday at Seattle, Ramos allowed nine runs (five earned) on 11 hits through three innings. But, serving as his own long man, Ramos worked a career-high 6 2/3 innings, retiring the last 12 hitters faced and exiting with a 9-4 deficit.
Maddon, who had Gomes up in the first inning this time when the Angels scored twice, had no intention of repeating that scenario.
Maddon brought in Gomes with one out and runners at second and third in the second inning. Mike Trout greeted Gomes with a sacrifice fly and, an out later, Albert Pujols doubled in Collin Cowgill to make it 4-0.
It was Pujols' 535th career double, breaking his tie with Lou Gehrig for No. 33 all-time.
In the first, Ramos retired only one of the first four batters (Pujols popped up after a nine-pitch at-bat). The Angels scored their first two runs on a Howie Kendrick RBI single and an Erick Aybar sacrifice fly.
Given a two-run lead early, Wilson got to experiment with one of his new toys, throwing a knuckleball to Brandon Guyer in the second inning and getting a groundout, "which was pretty cool," the Angels left-hander said.