LOS ANGELES (AP) — Albert Pujols and C.J. Cron drove in runs to back starter Hector Santiago and lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 5-1 victory over the struggling Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday.
Pujols snapped a scoreless tie with a sixth-inning single off rookie Blake Snell (1-4). Cron followed with a RBI grounder that the Rays, who’ve lost 19 of 22, were unable to turn into an inning-ending double play.
The last-place Angels, who’ve taken three straight for their longest winning streak in nearly two months, added two more runs in the eighth on Cron’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly and a perfectly executed double steal that saw Pujols swipe second base while Mike Trout sprinted home without drawing a throw to make it 4-0.
Santiago (6-4) allowed three hits over seven scoreless innings, improving to 8-1 in the month of July since joining the Angels in 2014. The left-hander walked four and struck out nine.
Tampa Bay’s Brad Miller homered on reliever Joe Smith’s first pitch, breaking up the shutout.
Snell, who has taken the loss in four of his six career starts, allowed two runs and four hits over six innings. The 23-year-old left-hander walked two and struck out seven before being replaced by Ryan Garton.
Angels: RHP Cory Rasmus is expected to miss a minimum of six more weeks after surgery on Thursday to repair a right groin injury. … C Geovany Soto, out since May 18 with a right lateral meniscus injury, might be activated this weekend.
Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) felt fine one day after his first rehab start Wednesday night for Class A Charlotte and will make his next appearance Monday. … C Curt Casali, who left Wednesday’s game with a bruise on the left side of his head after being struck by a back swing, sat out the series finale and is day to day. … INF Steve Pearce (strained right hamstring) is scheduled to start on-field batting practice Friday.
Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer (4-11, 127 strikeouts) and Drew Smyly (2-10, 108) are the second pair of teammates in major league history to lose 10 or more games while fanning at least 100 batters before the All-Star break. Clay Kirby (6-11, 126) and Steve Arlin (8-11, 115) did it for the San Diego Padres in 1972.
Angels 3B Yunel Escobar went 3 for 5, extending his hitting streak to a career best-matching 12 games. SS Andrelton Simmons, meanwhile, doubled in the eighth inning, giving him a nine-game hitting streak.
Angels: Continue a 10-game East Coast road trip leading into the All-Star break, with RHP Matt Shoemaker (3-9, 4.40 ERA) making his second start of the season against Baltimore. He pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out a career-high 12 in his start against the Orioles at Angel Stadium on May 21.
Rays: Archer, who lost eight straight decisions against the Red Sox, starts the opener of a weekend series in Boston. The right-hander, who’s gone from an All-Star a year ago to leading the majors in losses this season, is the first pitcher since Phil Niekro (Braves) in 1977 to have as many as 11 losses and 127 strikeouts at the All-Star break. The other times that happened occurred in 1973, when Nolan Ryan (Angels), Gaylord Perry (Indians) and Wilbur Wood (White Sox) all did it.
(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)