Rays escape Angels' 9th inning rally, split series with 6-5 win
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays dodged a scare from Mike Trout, and now they're headed to the Bronx for a most crucial division showdown.
Yandy Diaz hit an RBI single during Tampa Bay's two-run eighth inning, and the Rays held off Los Angeles' late rally to beat the Angels 6-5 Sunday.
Trout hit a two-run homer off Diego Castillo in the ninth to make it a one-run game. After Shohei Ohtani singled and went to second on Albert Pujols' grounder, Castillo completed his seventh save by striking out Kole Calhoun.
"It's always good to get a win before you're heading on a plane," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
The Rays are a half-game behind the New York Yankees in the AL East with a three-game series between the teams starting Monday night. The clubs are scheduled to play each other 11 times over the next 33 days.
"It's always a hostile environment over there," Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier said. "Those fans, they let you know what they feel, trust me. But it's also a great thing quieting that crowd anytime you can."
"Their fans are going to know that we're head-and-head with their guys," Kiermaier added. "It's going to be an electric atmosphere, and we look forward to playing in that."
Tommy Pham put the Rays ahead 4-3 with a solo shot against Griffin Canning (2-3) in the fifth. The lead grew to 6-3 in the eighth when Diaz got his run-scoring hit and another run scored on wild pitch.
David Fletcher had two RBIs for the Angels (35-37), who haven't been at .500 since April 15.
"We split a series with a good team, which I think is pretty good," Los Angeles catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "We could easily have taken three out of four from these guys."
The Rays used opener Ryne Stanek and five other relievers to complete a 3-4 homestand.
After Brandon Lowe hit a solo homer in the first, Kiermaier played a pivotal role during a two-run second that put the Rays up 3-1.
Kiermaier drove in a run with a triple and beat Pujols' throw to the plate after the first baseman caught Avisail Garcia's foul ball near the bullpen.
Canning allowed four runs, six hits and struck out seven in six innings. He joined Masahiro Tanaka, Herb Score and Orlando Hernandez as the only American League pitchers to have five-or-more strikeouts in at least nine starts to begin their career.
Los Angeles loaded the bases with no outs in the first but scored just once on Pujols' sacrifice fly.
Fletcher had a bases-loaded sacrifice fly with one out in third and a fifth-inning RBI single to tie it at 3-all.
"Obviously when you have guys on base, you feel like you've let some potential runs slip away," Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. "But give them credit, too, they pitched pretty well."
Angels: Ausmus expects OF Justin Upton, who hasn't played this season due to left foot turf toe, to be back Monday. ... 2B Tommy La Stella started after missing two games with left forearm tightness. ... INF Andrelton Simmons (sprained left ankle) will face live pitching in the next couple days and could be back late this week. ... RHP Trevor Cahill (right elbow inflammation) threw 20 pitches in his bullpen session and will do it again Tuesday.
Rays: INF Matt Duffy (strained left hamstring) ran the bases and worked out at both third base and shortstop.
Rays LHP José Alvarado is back after spending time in Venezuela dealing with a personal matter and will begin a throwing program at the team's minor league complex in Port Charlotte, Florida. He has been gone since June 2.
Although Rays RHP Emilio Pagan got two outs to end the top of the fifth, he was not awarded the win despite Pham's homer in the bottom of the inning due to a rule interpretation by the official scorer. Instead, Colin Poche (1-1), who entered in the sixth and went two scoreless innings, was credited with his first big league win.
Angels: RHP Felix Pena (4-1) will follow an opener Monday night at Toronto. The Blue Jays will start RHP Edwin Jackson (1-4).
Rays: RHP Yonny Chirinos (7-2) will go against Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka (4-5) Monday night. Due to a taxed bullpen, Chirinos will make his fifth consecutive start instead of following an opener.