Alex Cobb appeared headed toward a win in his major league debut. A big comeback by the Los Angeles Angels kept it from happening.
Hank Conger homered and nifty baserunning by Vernon Wells helped the Angels rally from a five-run deficit to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-5 on Sunday.
Cobb, recalled from Triple-A Durham for a spot start, couldn’t get through the fifth despite being handed a 5-0 lead in the first.
”Obviously, it wasn’t what I wanted,” said Cobb, who is from Vero Beach. ”I wanted to go out there and at least go five. My command wasn’t really there all game like it usually is, but I was able to get through those first three, four innings without any real damage.”
Cobb gave up four runs and four hits over 4-1/3 innings. The right-hander, who was pulled after Bobby Abreu hit an RBI single that made it 5-2 with one out to start a four-run fifth, struck out three and walked four.
”In the fifth, you know you can’t really go that long without big league hitters capitalizing on your mistakes,” Cobb said.
Cobb got his opportunity after the Rays used two starting pitchers in a day-night doubleheader last Thursday at Minnesota. He was optioned back to Durham after the game.
”I like the kid,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ”He started out well and they got him a little bit. He’s going to be a very competitive major league pitcher.”
Los Angeles went ahead 6-5 in the eighth thanks in part to Wells, who drew a one-out walk from Joel Peralta (1-1) with Torii Hunter on third. Wells slowed up on Conger’s grounder and forced second baseman Ben Zobrist to throw to first for an out. Wells then prolonged a rundown long enough for Hunter to score.
Angels ace Jered Weaver (6-0) was scratched from his scheduled start because of a stomach virus. Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia hopes Weaver will be able to pitch Monday night at Boston.
Rich Thompson (1-1) worked a scoreless seventh. Jordan Walden got three outs for his fifth save.
Tampa Bay went up 5-0 in the first on run-scoring singles by B.J. Upton, Matt Joyce, Casey Kotchman, Felipe Lopez and John Jaso off Tyler Chatwood, who had been scheduled to start Monday.
Conger cut the deficit to 5-1 with a second-inning homer. Alberto Callaspo had a run-scoring single, and Hunter hit a sacrifice fly during the fifth off Andy Sonnanstine when the Angels tied it at 5.
”We’ve got to do a better job of a keeping a lead,” Maddon said.
The Rays dropped two of three to Los Angeles, ending a stretch of five straight series victories. Tampa Bay (15-13) is 7-9 at home this season.
NOTES: Cobb was a Los Angeles Dodgers bat boy for three season at spring training while in high school. … Weaver has lost about 9 pounds in the past few days. … The Rays still expect All-Star 3B Evan Longoria (strained left oblique) to return from a minor league rehab assignment at Double-A Montgomery on Tuesday. … Tampa Bay INF Sean Rodriguez (dislocated left pinkie) had a soft-toss session in the batting cage and entered as a pinch-runner in the eighth. … Rays LHP J.P. Howell (left shoulder surgery) allowed one hit in a scoreless inning for Class-A Charlotte. The reliever could rejoin the team in mid-May. … Tampa Bay pitchers tied a season high with seven walks.