The Sports Xchange

Weaver makes early support hold up as Angels top Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jered Weaver had to wait a little longer than expected to work his first inning Sunday at Tropicana Field.

It was a welcome inconvenience. His Los Angeles Angels teammates were in the process of deciding the game against Tampa Bay Rays rookie right-hander Jake Odorizzi. Weaver stretched. He played catch in the batting cage. And then he did his part, allowing two earned runs on six hits with four walks and three strikeouts as the Angels outlasted the Rays, 7-5, to win their three-game series.

"You can't complain too much when they put five runs on the board in the first," said Weaver, who improved to 12-6. "It makes the pitcher's job a lot easier."

The right-hander responded to a season-worst outing of six runs allowed against Baltimore on Tuesday, stifling the Rays into the middle innings. But his bullpen and the pesky Rays injected more drama than the first inning foretold.

"It was a battle," Weaver said. "It was a game where neither team was going to give up. It was good we came out on top there."

Tampa Bay kept plugging, scoring three times off reliever Jason Grilli in the seventh to scrap within two runs. But again, the Rays left, as manager Joe Maddon put it, "meat on the bone," with center fielder Kevin Kiermaier grounding out to end the inning on the first pitch he saw after right-hander Joe Smith walked in a run to pull the Rays within 7-5.

"It was a good pitch to hit," Kiermaier said. "I was looking for something over the plate and I should've done more, but I didn't. It was one of those things where I knew he was going to come right there with a fastball and try to get ahead. He threw me a pitch I could handle and I didn't take advantage of it."

Grilli was completely ineffective in replacing Weaver, allowing three runs on two hits a walk. First baseman James Loney (3-for-4 two RBIs) had an RBI single and Longoria scored to pull the Rays within 7-4 on a wild pitch from right-hander Kevin Jepsen. Cole Figueroa coaxed his walk as a pinch-hitter.

Tampa Bay had 10 hits and drew seven walks but left 12 runners on base and was 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Huston Street pitched the ninth for his 30th save in 31 chances, sixth in six with the Angels since being acquired in a trade with San Diego on July 19.

Weaver, unbeaten in his last nine starts, allowed two earned runs on six hits with four walks and three strikeouts.

Designated hitter Mike Trout went 3-for-4 with a double, walk and two RBIs and third baseman Doug Freese also knocked in a pair.

In losing its third in four, Tampa Bay (54-57) fell 8 1/2 games behind Baltimore in the American League East and remained five behind Toronto for the second wild-card spot. The Rays had won five consecutive series,

The Angels have won seven of 10 and improved to 66-44.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia refused to criticize his bullpen despite four relievers allowing three runs on four hits and three walks.

"We got big outs all afternoon," he said. "They had guys on base all day long. ... When push came to shove, we got big outs."

The Angels pummeled Rays rookie starter Jake Odorizzi for five runs on five hits and two walks in a 46-pitch first inning as the first five batters scored.