ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A misplayed ball helped keep the playoff-hopeful Tampa Bay Rays in a little funk.
Erick Aybar drove in four runs and the Los Angeles Angels rallied from a late four-run deficit to beat the Rays 6-5 on Tuesday night.
Jose Molina had three hits and three RBIs for Tampa Bay, which has lost three in a row. The Rays, leading the AL wild-card race, are 2 games behind AL East-leading Boston.
“To permit that many runs late, we’ve done that way too many times,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We’ve got to stop doing that.”
Tampa Bay has blown 15 leads this year in the seventh inning or later, and this is the 12th time it has lost such a game.
Aybar hit a two-run double off closer Fernando Rodney (5-4) to put the Angels up 6-5 in the ninth.
“With a pitcher like Fernando you don’t want to think too much,” Aybar said. “Just look for a pitch in the zone and make contact.”
Peter Bourjos stole second and went to third when center fielder Desmond Jennings dropped J.B. Shuck’s fly ball for a two-base error. Aybar then followed with the key hit.
“I just missed it,” Jennings said. “It hit the tip of my glove.”
It was just Jennings’ second error over the past two seasons.
“It was really strange,” Maddon said. “The last thing you’d expect would be for that to happen.”
Aybar also had a two-run single during a three-run seventh that made it 5-4.
“Aybar hurt us,” Maddon said.
The Rays entered with the majors best record, at 37-13, against teams under .500 this season, according to STATS.
The Angels (59-71) have a four-game winning streak.
After Ernesto Frieri (2-4) pitched a scoreless eighth, Dane De La Rosa got the final three outs for his second save.
Tampa Bay went up 3-1 during the fifth on Molina’s third straight hit off C.J. Wilson, a two-run double. James Loney made it 5-1 with a two-run single in the sixth.
Molina entered 0 for 13 against Wilson.
Roberto Hernandez allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings. He left with two on and no outs in the seventh. Jake McGee entered and gave up a run-scoring grounder to Shuck and Aybar’s two-run single that got the Angels within 5-4.
Wilson, who had gone 5-0 over his previous eight starts, gave up three runs, eight hits and five walks over five innings.
“We score runs and we’ve got a lot of guys that are hungry and want to do some damage in these last few weeks of the season,” Wilson said. “Tampa Bay’s on their way to the playoffs, possibly, and if we can cause any disruptions, that’s really the only thing we can do right now.”
Mike Trout tied it at 1 in the fourth on his 23rd home run this season. It was his second homer in six at-bats against Hernandez, who struck out Trout with two on and two outs one inning later.
Molina put Tampa Bay up 1-0 on an RBI double in the second. Wilson avoided a big inning by getting an inning-ending bases-loaded fly ball from Ben Zobrist.
Tampa Bay’s Wil Myers popped out with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth.
NOTES: Tampa Bay optioned struggling RHP Jeremy Hellickson to Class A Charlotte for extra rest. He is not expected to pitch in the minors and should rejoin the Rays early next month. … Angels INF Howie Kendrick (left knee) continues running and taking grounders. “We definitely expect him to play this year,” manager Mike Scioscia said. … Wilson tripped running out to pitch in the second and fell to the ground between the third base line and the mound.