The Rays continued their struggles in Anaheim with a 5-4, 11-inning loss in Monday’s series opener, but ended a six-game slide there with a 7-2 victory Tuesday night.
Jeff Niemann(notes) took a shutout into the eighth inning and Evan Longoria(notes) homered and drove in four as the Rays won for the second time in 16 games at Angel Stadium since former Los Angeles bench coach Joe Maddon became Tampa Bay’s manager.
“That’s been hammered into our heads since spring training, that the starters go deep into the game. And we’ve been doing a pretty good job of it,” Niemann said.
The Rays have lost 12 straight series in Anaheim since splitting a four-game set April 27-30, 2000. Tampa’s last series win there came May 14-16, 1999.
The Rays snapped a season-high three-game skid and improved the majors’ best record to 23-10.
A staff that boasts an AL-best 2.80 ERA is the biggest reason for Tampa Bay’s fast start, and Price (4-1, 1.91) may be emerging as its ace.
The 24-year-old left-hander was outstanding again in a 4-1 victory at Oakland on Friday. He allowed one unearned run and three hits - all singles - in 7 2-3 innings while striking out six and walking four.
He has held the opposition without an earned run in two of his last three outings, compiling a 0.79 ERA over 22 2-3 innings with 16 strikeouts.
Price is 0-1 with a 5.23 ERA in two starts against the Angels, losing at Anaheim on Aug. 11.
Los Angeles (15-20) looks to win its second straight series behind Weaver (4-1, 2.66), by far its most reliable starter.
The right-hander took a no-hitter into the seventh inning at Seattle on Friday, eventually yielding two hits through 7 1-3 innings in an 8-0 victory. He struck out seven, walked three and outpitched Mariners star Felix Hernandez(notes).
“Our guys got after a great pitcher. That took a lot of pressure off me,” Weaver said of the Angels’ four-run first.
That was the sixth quality start in seven games for Weaver, who is 2-0 with a 2.52 ERA in four home outings.
Weaver is 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA in four starts versus Tampa Bay. He limited the Rays to one run over eight innings in a 6-1 win June 10, 2008, in his only home appearance against them.
Tampa Bay first baseman Carlos Pena(notes) was held out of the starting lineup Tuesday but came in as a defensive replacement in the seventh. He has one hit in his last 40 at-bats and is batting .179.