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.