ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Solid starting pitching, timely hitting and some much-needed relief from a struggling bullpen.
The last-place Tampa Bay Rays got all three for a change Monday and ended a four-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the reeling Los Angeles Angels.
“It feels good to get a win,” manager Kevin Cash said. “Kind of difficult to come by these days.”
Logan Morrison homered and drove in two runs for the Rays, who won for just the third time in 19 games. Matt Moore (5-5) allowed two runs and six hits over 6 2/3 innings, improving to 4-0 in his career against Los Angeles and handing the Angels their 12th loss in 14 games.
“Matt Moore set the tone. He’s on a really good run. It’s great to see,” Cash said after the left-hander won consecutive starts for the first time since September 2013.
Tampa Bay’s beleaguered bullpen got the job done, with Erasmo Ramirez getting four outs before Dana Eveland and rookie Ryan Garton combined for a scoreless ninth.
Garton got two outs for his first major league save.
“Obviously, the back end of the bullpen, we’re asking some guys we know are not accustomed to doing things like that at the major league level,” Cash said.
“Hopefully Ryan Garton has got a smile from ear to ear and doesn’t wipe it off all night,” the manager added. “I don’t know if he envisioned closing out a ballgame today for us, but we felt he was a good option, especially with the fastball he’s able to locate up in the zone.”
During the 18-game stretch leading into Monday, Rays relievers compiled a 9.29 ERA and allowed at least one run 16 times. Tampa Bay was outscored 20-4 in innings seven through nine during a four-game sweep Detroit completed on Sunday.
“It was great to get the call and be able to help the team out this time,” Garton said. “I felt good to be able to do my job.”
Morrison hit a solo homer off starter Nick Tropeano and gave the Rays the lead for good with an RBI single off Fernando Salas (3-6). Brad Miller also had a solo homer for the last-place Rays, who won for just the third time in 19 games.
Jefry Marte homered off Moore before leaving in the sixth with a bruised left knee. The outfielder was hit by a pitch in the fourth but remained in the game long enough to go deep on the first pitch of the sixth to make it 2-all.
Andrelton Simmons drove in the other run for Los Angeles with a fourth-inning double.
Salas has taken the loss in four of his last eight appearances. The right-hander has a 9.72 ERA over his past 16 outings, compared to 2.01 through his first 22 appearances this year.
“Fernando just hasn’t been as crisp. His command has been in the equation of why he’s been struggling,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s a better pitcher than he’s shown. There’s no doubt about that.”
Tropeano was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake before the game to make his first major league start since May 29. The right-hander, who spent much of the past month on the disabled list because of shoulder tightness, allowed two runs and four hits in five innings, including solo homers to Miller in the third and Morrison in the fifth.
The Rays snapped a 2-all tie in the sixth against Salas, with Morrison delivering a go-ahead single and Steven Souza Jr. doubling into the left-field corner to drive in Morrison from first base to make it 4-2.
Angels: Scioscia said C Geovany Soto (right knee) could return during the four-game series with the Rays. Soto is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake.
Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) will start a rehab assignment with Class A Charlotte on Wednesday. . Tampa Bay closer Alex Colome (right biceps tendinitis) felt fine after a bullpen session Sunday and didn’t rule out being ready to return this week.
COMING AND GOING
Angels: To make room for Tropeano, LHP Jose Alvarez was optioned to Salt Lake to “find his release point,” according to Scioscia. The move leaves Los Angeles without a left-hander in the bullpen. “In a perfect world you have one or two lefties that can go there and match up, but we’re not there right now,” Scioscia said.
Rays: CF Desmond Jennings was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. RHP Tyler Sturdevant was recalled from Triple-A Durham to help a struggling bullpen.
Angels: RHP Tim Lincecum (1-2, 6.75 ERA) makes his second career start against Tampa Bay, which hasn’t faced him since Aug. 3, 2013, when he was with San Francisco.
Rays: RHP Jake Odorizzi (3-3, 3.91 ERA) tries to end a stretch of nine consecutive home starts without a win, the longest streak by a Rays pitcher to start a season since Scott Kazmir went 10 in 2007. Odorizzi is 0-2 with a 5.14 ERA in three career starts against the Angels.
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