Rays 3, Angels 0

Fernando Rodney made a triumphant return to the Angel Stadium

mound with perhaps his most satisfying save of the season.

Rodney pitched a perfect ninth inning to preserve Matt Moore’s

3-0 victory over C.J. Wilson and the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday

night. And back in the clubhouse, the reliever was all smiles

through that sinister-looking goatee of his.

”I was happy to close the game in this place and show that team

that I’m a different pitcher than I was the last couple of years

when I was here,” said Rodney, who had a career-high 37 saves in

2009 with Detroit. ”I couldn’t find my spot here when I tried to

close. I don’t know what the reason is, but this year is different

and I have a lot of confidence.

”When I came to Tampa, they told me to pitch like I did in the

past and don’t worry about anything. They gave me the opportunity

to close, so I just wanted to keep my head up and keep

working.”

Rodney has converted 29 of 30 save attempts this season with a

0.79 ERA in 46 appearances. The 10-year veteran, who struggled

quite a bit during two seasons with the Angels before signing a

one-year, $2 million contract with Tampa Bay in January, pitched at

the ”Big A” for the first time since Sept. 2, 2011, when he

failed to retire any of his five batters and allowed four runs

against Minnesota.

”I know Fernando had a tough time here last year, but I don’t

want our guys to live in the past,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

”Our GM and our scouting department loved him, and he was one of

the guys we really wanted this offseason because we thought he’d

have a really good year. Then we broke down the under-the-hood kind

of stuff that we thought he needed to be better with. And he

has.

”He got the opportunity because Kyle Farnsworth had been hurt,

and he just jumped right in,” Maddon added. ”I like his

strike-throwing ability, his 99 mph fastball, his Bugs Bunny

changeup and his relaxed, calm approach to the whole thing. That’s

what we’ve been seeing all year.”

Ben Zobrist had a home run and a sacrifice fly in support of

Moore (7-7), who is 6-2 with a 3.32 ERA in his last 10 starts. The

23-year-old lefty pitched a career-high eight innings in his

previous outing and retired his final 17 batters in a 2-1 loss to

Seattle last Sunday.

Moore barely escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth after No. 9

hitter Bobby Wilson doubled with one out and Mike Trout reached on

a fielding error by third baseman Ryan Roberts – ending Tampa Bay’s

season-best six-game errorless streak. A walk to Torii Hunter

loaded the bases for Albert Pujols, who popped out.

”I don’t like to have the bases loaded with Pujols up. But I

didn’t pitch around Torii at all because he’s a dangerous hitter,

too,” Moore said. ”That’s a very tough lineup with a lot of good

hitters. So to find myself in only two jams tonight, I consider

that a very good win for sure,” Moore said. ”I was fortunate to

be able to get ahead of some guys early and let my other pitches

work.”

Moore then made a 1-0 pitch to Mark Trumbo that broke off the

glove of former Angels catcher Jose Molina, who hustled after it

and threw to Moore for a sweep tag on Wilson as he slid in

headfirst. TV replays showed that Moore’s glove dusted the plate

and missed Moore, leading to a brief argument from manager Mike

Scioscia.

”That was an incredible play,” Maddon said. ”If you’ve ever

watched Jose, he’s got that real loose arm when he throws the ball

back to the pitcher, and it’s almost like a softball toss. And

without being able to do that, you don’t make that play. With that

loose arm, he was able to throw the ball right on the money. And

Matty did his job, putting the tag on him.”

The Angels also mounted a threat in the fourth after Moore hit

Pujols with a 1-2 pitch and Trumbo singled. But Howie Kendrick

struck out, Alberto Callaspo lined out to left field and Vernon

Wells hit a grounder to third. Wells played his first game since

May 20, when he tore a ligament in his right thumb while stealing

second base at San Diego and had to undergo surgery.

Wilson (9-7) threw 121 pitches in 6 2-3 innings, allowing three

runs – two earned – and four hits. He struck out seven and walked

three. The All-Star lefty is 0-3 with a 4.23 ERA over his last six

starts after going 5-0 with a 1.30 ERA in his previous seven. It

was Wilson’s fourth start since blister problems prevented him from

pitching in the All-Star game.

”I think early on, his command wasn’t quite as crisp and his

ball-to-strike ratio wasn’t good,” Scioscia said. ”But as the

game went on, he got better and really made some great pitches and

pitched deep into the game.”

The Angels squandered a chance to reduce Texas’ four-game lead

over them in the AL West race and fell into third place – a

half-game behind the surging Oakland Athletics, who have won 18 of

21. Zack Greinke, acquired by Los Angeles in a trade with Milwaukee

on Friday, will make his debut with his new club in Sunday’s series

finale against Jeremy Hellickson.

NOTES: Angels C Chris Iannetta, sidelined since May 9 because of

a broken right wrist, was reinstated from the disabled list. C John

Hester and LHP Hisanori Takahashi were optioned to Triple-A Salt

Lake. … The Rays’ 77 errors already have eclipsed last season’s

total by four. … Tampa Bay lost 13 of its first 14 games at

Anaheim after Maddon left his job as Scioscia’s bench coach to

become Rays manager. Since then, they have won eight of 11 at the

”Big A.”