ST. PETERSBURG -- Jered Weaver held the Rays to just one run in six innings and the Angels' offense stayed hot behind him, scoring seven runs over a three-inning span in a 7-2 victory at Tropicana Field on Wednesday night.The Angels -- winners of back-to-back games for the first time
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jered Weaver held the Rays to just one run in six innings and the Angels' offense stayed hot behind him, scoring seven runs over a three-inning span in a 7-2 victory at Tropicana Field on Wednesday night.
The Angels -- winners of back-to-back games for the first time since June 18-19 -- have scored 52 runs in the first six games of this road trip, including 21 on Saturday. The Rays haven't won back-to-back games since June 14-15, and have won just three of their last 21 games.
"With men on base, we're driving runs in," said Angels center fielder Mike Trout, who belted his team-leading 18th home run. "We're having great at-bats, all of us, and we're taking our walks when we get them. It's fun to play like that."
The Angels jumped ahead early with a four-run third, sparked by a key error from Rays second baseman Nick Franklin. Kole Calhoun drew a bases-loaded walk and Trout hit a grounder to the left side that should've resulted in two outs. But Franklin threw errantly to first after receiving the feed from shortstop Brad Miller and the Angels scored twice.
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"When a pitcher is struggling, probably the most important thing that we can do as a team is do everything we can to make some plays for him," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I can't sit here and say that we've done that."
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Albert Pujols followed with a sacrifice fly and the Angels plated three more in the inning -- on a sac fly by Andrelton Simmons, a double by Yunel Escobar and a solo homer from Trout, who is on pace for 34 homers.
Rays starter Drew Smyly was charged with seven runs (four earned) on eight hits and three walks with no strikeouts over four-plus-innings that increased his ERA to 5.47.
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Bob and Weave: Weaver gave up 10 runs on 15 hits and five walks in 10 innings over his last two starts, but he bounced back in a big way on Wednesday. The Angels' longtime ace gave up only four hits and one walk with five strikeouts to lower his ERA to 5.27. He threw five fastballs at 85 or 86 mph, which to him is a welcome sign. Besides Logan Forsythe's solo homer in the sixth, the Rays had very few hard-hit balls against him.
"This is the best stuff I think we've seen Weave have," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think he had good life, was hitting his spots easy, good movement on his fastball, didn't rely so much on maybe some off-speed stuff, and everything seemed like it worked." More >
Calhoun's highlight reel: Calhoun raced into foul territory and made a full-extension, diving catch on a Longoria fly ball just past the Rays' bullpen for the first out of the bottom of the fourth. Calhoun covered 118 feet, attained a route efficiency of 97.13 percent and ran at a top speed of 18.8 mph, per Statcast™. In the ninth, Calhoun threw out Hank Conger trying to stretch for a double, giving him five outfield assists this season.
"That's why he's a Gold Glover," said Trout.
No Smyles: Smyly was not sharp as he lost his sixth straight decision, but his defense did him no favors. After the first four batters singled to lead off the third, it appeared he had a double-play groundout from Trout. But the throw was poor from Franklin at second base, and another run scored. Two more unearned runs came across in the fourth for the Angels on a three-error night for the Rays.
"It's so weird. I have to own it and take blame," Smyly said. "But I feel like I'm making good quality pitches. Go back and look at this game."
Running away The Rays made two baserunning blunders in the late innings, one to their benefit and one costly. With the Rays down, 7-1, in the seventh, Final Vote candidate Evan Longoria raced home on a wild pitch. He was beat to the plate, but strayed away from the tag. The next inning, Conger was gunned down by Calhoun trying to extend a single into a double.
"We're not winning. We're not playing well. I didn't pitch well. We didn't defend well. We didn't hit well. And it starts with me." -- Smyly, on his struggles
"Absolutely not. That's one of the worst questions I ever heard." -- Weaver, when asked if the struggles of his team have made it hard for him to keep his edge
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Escobar finished 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to a season-high 11 games and lift his batting average to .322, the highest among Major League third basemen.
Escobar got caught trying to sell a hit by pitch on a ball that never made contact with his hands. Replay revealed that in the fourth, prompting umpires to overturn their initial call and for the Rays to retain their challenge. But Escobar, who spent the 2013 and '14 seasons with the Rays, stepped back into the batter's box and scorched an RBI double.
With the Rays down by six runs in the eighth, Longoria made a questionable play trying to score on a pitch in the dirt. Angels catcher Jett Bandy had him beat to home plate, and Longoria was called out. He immediately signaled for a review, and it was clear that by jumping out of the way, he avoided the tag and the Rays scored their second run.
Angels:Hector Santiago (5-4, 4.93 ERA) takes the ball for the series finale from Tropicana Field, with game time set for 9:10 a.m. PT. Santiago was on the mound when the Angels scored 21 runs at Fenway Park on Saturday, but he nonetheless pitched well, giving up only an unearned run despite issuing four walks in six innings.
Rays:Blake Snell (1-2, 3.54 ERA) gets the call in the finale of an 11-game homestand on Thursday at 12:10 p.m. ET. Even though Snell has been solid, the lefty has lacked fastball command and has worked high pitch counts that have led to early exits.
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Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.
Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for MLB.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast.