Series: Game 2 of 4

Anaheim leads 2-0 (as of 5/7)

Game 1: Thursday, May 6
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Game 2: Friday, May 7
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Game 3: Saturday, May 8
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Game 4: Sunday, May 9
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Devil Rays 0

(9-19, 3-12 away)

Angels 1

(20-10, 9-5 home)

10:05 PM ET, May 7, 2004

Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, California 

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W: J. Lackey (3-3)

L: M. Hendrickson (1-3)

Lackey improves to 3-3

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Either John Lackey's early season problems are far behind him, or the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' offense is worse than manager Lou Piniella imagined.

Lackey pitched a three-hitter to outduel Mark Hendrickson and David Eckstein had an RBI single to help the Anaheim Angels beat the Devil Rays 1-0 Friday night, extending their winning streak to seven games.

Anaheim has won 13 of 16 and has the best record in baseball at 20-10 -- matching the 1970 team for best start in franchise history.

"I've really located my fastball well the last four starts. That's been huge for me," Lackey said after winning his third straight outing. "I've been down in the zone, I've been on both sides of the plate most of the time and I've been getting ahead of hitters. That makes things easier later on in counts."

The three-year veteran went the distance for the fourth time in 57 career starts while striking out three and walking one. He threw 107 pitches in his third shutout, 73 for strikes.

Lackey (3-3) retired 16 straight batters, starting with designated hitter Midre Cummings, who flied out to center after the Devil Rays loaded the bases with two outs in the third.

"I threw Cummings a breaking ball because he's definitely somebody who likes the fastball and likes to swing early in the count," Lackey said. "You've got to be dialed in and be focused, because one mistake can win or lose a game."

The shutout was the first for Lackey since Sept. 24, when he beat Seattle 4-0 with a five-hitter. Carl Crawford opened the ninth with a single, the Devil Rays' first hit since Crawford's bunt single in the third. But Lackey's pitch count enabled manager Mike Scioscia to give him a little extra time to close it out.

"It's huge that Mike had the confidence to let me go out there," Lackey said. "I really wanted to repay him for that, try to finish the thing and make him look good. It's always great when your manager has confidence in you and gives you that opportunity."

Julio Lugo flied out and Cummings grounded out before first baseman Robb Quinlan -- just recalled from the minors after Thursday night's game -- stopped a grounder down the line by Tino Martinez then flipped to Lackey for the final out.

"I was like, `It's right there. Pick it up, dude,' I mean, Tino doesn't run real well, but I could hear him coming," Lackey said with a laugh.

The Devil Rays (9-19) have lost 10 of 12. They were shut out for the fifth time and were held to fewer than two runs for the 10th time in 28 games this season.

"Everybody who pitches against us is a Cy Young candidate," Piniella said. "I wish I were a poet. I'd write, `An ode to scoring runs."

Hendrickson (1-3) allowed a run and seven hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking one. The 6-foot-9 left-hander won both of his previous starts against Anaheim.

In a matchup of the highest-scoring team in the majors and the club with the second-fewest runs, the Angels scored in the third on Shane Halter's leadoff double to left-center and Eckstein's hit.

"Eckstein really didn't hit the ball hard, but it found a hole," Hendrickson said. "It was one of those games where Lackey had to pitch a career game to beat me."

Tampa Bay center fielder Rocco Baldelli robbed Anaheim's Vladimir Guerrero of a home run with a leaping catch in the eighth inning.

The Devil Rays are approaching their 1,000th game as a franchise on Sunday, and are off to a worse start than their inaugural season, when they were 12-16.

The frustration is mounting for third baseman Aubrey Huff, who slammed his bat at home plate after striking out in the fourth. Huff, in his second game since being dropped to sixth in the batting order, is in a 5-for-39 slump and is 4-for-31 with runners in scoring position. He also is 0-for-14 lifetime against Lackey.

Game notes

The Devil Rays tied a club record with their eighth straight errorless game. ... Tampa Bay did not allow a home run for the first time in 18 games after tying a club record in that department. ... After splitting their first 28 games with Tampa Bay, the Angels have gone 28-8 against the seventh-year expansion team, and have won 17 of the last 21 meetings.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press