ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) –– Mike Trout greeted Brad Boxberger with a three-run walkoff homer to cap a four-run ninth inning and give the Los Angeles Angels a 6-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.
Rays closer Grant Balfour came on in the ninth to try and protect a 5-2 lead for Erik Bedard, but walked his first two batters before giving up an RBI single by Collin Cowgill. Trout jumped on a 1-1 pitch from Boxberger (0-1) and drove it into the top tier of the double-decker bullpen in left field for his eighth homer.
Fernando Salas (3-0) pitched a perfect inning to get the victory.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia won two replay challenges with his team at bat. Both were against second base umpire Jim Reynolds on tag plays in the fifth and seventh innings, although the Angels didn’t score in either inning.
Angels starter Tyler Skaggs gave up five runs and eight hits in six-plus innings, remaining winless in five starts at Angel Stadium this season with a 6.91 ERA.
Brandon Guyer hit his first home run of the season and center fielder Desmond Jennings robbed C.J. Cron of a two-run homer as Bedard took a 4-0 lead into the sixth. The left-hander was charged with two unearned runs and four hits through 5 2-3 innings and struck out five.
Rays first baseman James Loney, playing in on the grass, allowed a two-out grounder by Erick Aybar to get under his glove with runners at the corners in the sixth. Howie Kendrick scored on Loney’s third error of the season, ending a string of 22 consecutive scoreless innings by Tampa Bay pitchers — five short of the franchise record set last September.
Pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez greeted Brandon Gomes with an RBI single before Jake McGee came in and struck out Grant Green. Guyer chased Skaggs with a leadoff homer in the seventh to give Tampa Bay a three-run lead.
In the fourth, Jennings took away Cron’s bid for his third big league homer and first at Angel Stadium with a leaping grab in left-center — two innings after Guyer raced in from left field to make a diving grab of Cron’s Texas Leaguer.
Thanks to Jennings’ catch, Bedard has thrown 46 1-3 consecutive innings without allowing a home run since last Sept. 16, when he was pitching for Houston and gave up a 2-run shot by Cincinnati’s Zack Cozart at Minute Maid Park.
Tampa Bay scored three runs in the sixth. Jimenez, making his fifth start at third base while David Freese remains on the disabled list, went into the hole for Wil Myers’ sixth-inning grounder with Aybar standing right behind Jimenez waiting for the ball. It deflected off Jimenez’s glove and into short left field, and Myers was credited with an RBI double.
Loney, who leads Tampa Bay with 24 RBIs, doubled inside first base two batters later to drive in another run.
NOTES: The Rays put switch-hitting 2B Ben Zobrist on the 15-day DL because of a dislocated left thumb, which he injured on a headfirst slide while trying to steal second base in Wednesday’s 2-0 victory at Seattle. The nine-year veteran doesn’t intend to abandon the headfirst approach. “I’ll keep sliding headfirst — probably with an oven mitt on my hand, or something to protect it,” he joked. … Angels LF Josh Hamilton, who hasn’t played since tearing a ligament in his left thumb on a headfirst slide into first base April 8, took live batting practice for the first time since the injury and is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment late next week. … Rays RHP Alex Cobb, sidelined since April 13 because of an oblique strain on his left side, is scheduled to make a rehab start on Saturday with Class-A Charlotte and will be limited to five innings or 75 pitches.