Rays 4, Angels 3

Bolstered by an early lead, James Shields pitched the Tampa Bay
Rays back into a first-place tie with the Yankees in the AL
East.

B.J. Upton homered on the first pitch of the game from former
Tampa Bay teammate Scott Kazmir and doubled home another run in a
4-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.

The Rays’ win in the series opener – their fifth one-run game in
a row – and New York’s 3-2 loss at Toronto left the teams with
identical 77-48 records, tied for best in the majors.

”How ’bout it?” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ”That’s pretty
interesting. It’s much more fun to excruciatingly look at the
scoreboard every night.”

They also improved on their 38-24 road record, the best in
baseball. The Rays have won three straight at Angel Stadium for the
first time in franchise history.

Shields (12-11) allowed eight hits and three runs – two earned –
in six-plus innings, struck out 10 and walked one in his 144th
career start, tying Kazmir for most in club history.

”He’s been a rock for us the last several years,” Maddon said.
”He’s going to really get on a nice run.”

The right-hander from the Los Angeles suburb of Newhall earned
his 55th career victory, tying Kazmir’s mark, and won in Anaheim
for the first time after losing his two previous appearances.

”It’s good to get that off my back. Hopefully, I can get a lot
more wins,” Shields said. ”I was commanding my fastball really
well. I got in a nice little rhythm.”

Rafael Soriano struck out the side on nine pitches in the ninth
to earn his major league-leading 38th save in 40 chances.

Kazmir (8-11) gave up five hits and four runs in 5 1-3 innings,
struck out four and walked four to fall to 1-6 in his last eight
starts. He’s pitched into the seventh just once in his last nine
starts for the Angels, who are 2-6 in their last eight games.

”If I just got past that first inning without any damage and
had been a little bit more economical it would have been a whole
different outcome,” Kazmir said. ”I settled in nice in the third,
fourth and fifth innings. That was me out there. But I put myself
in a hole early and it’s frustrating. It puts pressure on everyone
when you start the game down three runs.”

Upton ended an 0-for-11 skid with his 12th homer and second
leadoff home run of the season. Ben Zobrist extended the Rays’ lead
to 3-0 with a two-run single later in the first.

Upton doubled into the left-field corner in the second, putting
the Rays up 4-0.

”I know it sounds like a broken record, but Scott’s just having
trouble moving forward with some things and he’s paying a price for
it,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

His next time up, Upton flied out to the warning track in
left-center in the fourth, then was robbed of a home run by center
fielder Peter Bourjos in the sixth. Bourjos also took away a home
run from former Angel Sean Rodriguez leading off the second, but
the ball bounced off his glove and ended up as a double.

”Those are the first two in the big leagues that I’ve pulled
back,” he said. ”The ball kind of hung up for me a little bit, so
I was able to get back on the ball. I was pretty upset about the
first one. It was bugging me in the dugout, but then to get the
second one felt pretty good.”

Bourjos’ play impressed teammate Torii Hunter, who moved from
center to right to accommodate the rookie.

”He made the adjustment from the first one. He concentrated a
little more and knew the wall was going to be there, and he put the
glove out there and took the hit,” Hunter said. ”It just reminded
me of myself. I know the feeling of taking a home run away from
other players. That used to be fun.”

The Angels trailed 4-2 in the third on Hideki Matsui’s two-run
double with two outs. They made it 4-3 in the seventh on Howie
Kendrick’s sacrifice fly.

NOTES: Juan Rivera made his first career start at first base for
the Angels, becoming the eighth player to start there since Kendry
Morales’ season-ending broken leg on May 29. … After the game,
the Rays optioned RHP Mike Ekstrom to Triple-A Durham and
reinstated RHP Wade Davis from the DL to start on Tuesday. … Rays
3B Evan Longoria was hitless in four at-bats with two strikeouts
after being named AL player of the week when he hit .393 last week.
… The Rays concluded a three-day stretch against left-handed
starters. They are 30-13, tops in the majors, when an opponent
starts a lefty. … The Angels have lost three of four against the
Rays at home, where Los Angeles is 14-4 against them since
2006.