ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The shell-shocked Los Angeles Angels, coming off one of the worst single-game collapses in franchise history, continued a downward spiral as they ended a 10-game homestand with an 8-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday at Angel Stadium.
The Rays completed a four-game sweep, a stretch that included overcoming an 8-0 deficit Saturday, and extended their lead over the Angels to 4½ games in the wild-card race.
The Angels (62-60) began the homestand only one game behind in the wild-card standings, but went 3-7 and are getting close to desperate times as they prepare to play 12 of their next 15 games on the road.
The Angels are 14-22 since the All-Star break and are now nine games behind Texas in the AL West race -- the largest deficit in that race since April 30.
Trout and Pujols: Mike Trout and Albert Pujols carried the Angels' offense as each hit a solo home run. It was the second consecutive day that both players hit home runs and the two are tied for the most home runs in baseball since July 1 with 16 apiece.
There’s Walden: Relief pitcher Jordan Walden looked strong in his first appearance since July 8, as he struck out the side in the eighth inning. Walden, activated from the disabled list after missing six weeks with neck and biceps injuries, hit 97 mph on the radar gun and struck out Sean Rodriguez and Elliott Johnson on three pitches and needed four to strike out Desmond Jennings. Jose Molina lined a single just out of the reach of second baseman Howie Kendrick in the inning, but Walden’s performance was a positive sign for a beleaguered bullpen that has been reeling in recent weeks.
Greinke goes six: It wasn’t the prettiest outing for starting pitcher Zack Greinke, but the fact that he lasted six innings tells you all you need to know about how poorly the Angels' starters have performed of late. Greinke’s six-inning stint marked the longest stay by an Angels pitcher in the four-game series against Tampa Bay. Dan Haren went 3 2/3 on Thursday, Jered Weaver lasted only three on Friday and C.J. Wilson exited after 4 2/3 on Sunday. Greinke gave up six runs on seven hits and four walks, but most of the damage came in a four-run second inning. He enabled the bullpen to get some semblance of rest as the team goes in to an off day.
Greinke in the second: Greinke lost his feel for pitching in the second inning, when he gave up four runs on two hits, two walks and a hit batter. Matt Joyce delivered the big blow with a two-run single, but Greinke had already walked in a run at that point after hitting Elliott Johnson to load the bases. Greinke’s four walks Sunday tied his season high and he has now given up at least four earned runs in four consecutive starts for the first time in his career. He needed 113 pitches to get through six innings.
No rally monkey: Angles batters were mostly stifled by Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore, who gave up two runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings. The Angels didn’t have a runner get past first base until Trout’s solo home run to lead off the fourth. The Angels had consecutive hits only once during the entire game, when Erick Aybar singled and Vernon Wells doubled with two out in the fifth. Bobby Wilson nearly ended the rally with a pop foul, but got a second chance when Jose Molina and Carlos Pena collided trying to catch it. Wilson eventually walked to load the bases for Trout, but the rookie flew out to center to end the threat.
Downs and out: Reliever Scott Downs, activated off the disabled list Saturday, had a rough outing on Sunday. When he started the ninth inning, the Angels were still within range of a miracle comeback at 6-2, but Downs gave up a double, a walk and another double for two runs while retiring only one batter. When the ninth ended, the Rays had an 8-2 lead.