ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays are heading out on a long road trip in a little slump.
Jason Vargas allowed two hits over seven innings and the Los Angeles Angels held off the Rays 2-0 on Thursday.
Tampa Bay has lost four of five, and are on top of the AL wild-card standings with Oakland. The Angels have won five of six.
Tampa Bay dropped two of three to the Angels, and now start a 10-game road swing Friday night at Oakland.
“It’s definitely not what we want, but it’s what we have at this point,” Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said. “I think the one positive is we still have a lead in the wild card and we are still within close striking distance (of AL East-leading) Boston with a month of baseball to play. What more could you ask for?”
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon set a theme for the trip that deals with the start of the college football season. He is letting players and staff wear football jerseys on the team flight.
“Frustrating is a great word for today,” said Maddon, who was wearing a Lafayette College jersey during his postgame media session. “It happens, and you’ve got to move it along and get ready for the next day. Nothing you can do about today except put your favorite collegiate jersey and get on the airplane. It’s a long ride. The card game will be festive. We’ve got two really good bottles of wine for the trip also.”
Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner David Price, Friday night’s scheduled starter, got into the swing of things early by throwing his bullpen session Wednesday in a Vanderbilt helmet, football jersey and pants.
“David, actually, tipped it off with the full Vandy outfit, which I was really jealous of,” Maddon said.
Vargas (8-5) gave up a leadoff double to Desmond Jennings in the first and Ben Zobrist’s sixth-inning infield single. The left-hander struck out seven and walked three.
Rays rookie Wil Myers drew a leadoff walk from Ernesto Frieri in the ninth and went to third on Yunel Escobar’s one-out double. Frieri rebounded to earn his 28th save, retiring Kelly Johnson on a foul pop and getting pitch-hitter David DeJesus on a flyball.
Luis Jimenez and Kole Calhoun each drove in a run for the Angels.
Jimenez, recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake before the game after third baseman Chris Nelson went on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, hit an RBI single in the second. He finished with two hits and had a throwing error at third.
Los Angeles made it 2-0 on Calhoun’s run-scoring single in the sixth.
The Rays loaded the bases with one out in the first, but failed to score when Sean Rodriguez popped out and Escobar flied out. Vargas also worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth.
“I felt like getting out of that first inning, it starts to push the momentum your way,” Vargas said. “You get on something like that early, it gets the guys fired up.”
Jake Odorizzi (0-1), recalled from Triple-A Durham Wednesday night to start the series finale with the Angels, allowed one run and four hits over five innings.
NOTES: Los Angeles slugger Josh Hamilton (shoulder) was the DH for the second consecutive game. He went 0 for 3 with a walk and had his career-high road hitting streak end at 15 games. … Myers went 0 for 1 with three walks, but is hitless in his last 19 at-bats. … Angels 1B Mark Trumbo, in a 3-for-22 skid, was rested. He entered in the eighth as defensive replacement. … Rays All-Star LHP Matt Moore (sore left elbow) was scheduled to start a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham. Barring a setback, he could rejoin the rotation next Tuesday.