ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Aaron Sele figured if he stuck around long enough, his teammates would bail him out. He was right.
The Anaheim right-hander held Tampa Bay to three runs through six innings, and Jose Guillen homered for the third consecutive night to help the Angels beat the Devil Rays 7-3 Thursday and extend their winning streak to six.
“I just wanted to keep it close, really just hung around until Jose came up with his three-run homer,” Sele said. “When you give up runs early like I did, you still know our hitters will get into the flow after they see their pitcher a couple of times.”
The Angels, off to their best start since the 1970 team also went 19-10, have won 12 of their last 14 to move a half-game ahead of Texas in the AL West.
Sele’s outing in his first start since replacing Ramon Ortiz in the rotation was another good sign for the surging Angels. Sele (1-0) allowed eight hits and threw 96 pitches.
Inconsistent since undergoing rotator cuff surgery in 2002, Sele had been used mostly in relief this year, but got a starting job after Ortiz’s ERA ballooned to 9.28 and he was sent to the bullpen.
“I thought I had been back since spring training,” Sele said, asked about his comeback from the operation. “You’ve got to bide your time and wait for an opportunity.”
Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia was pleased with Sele’s performance.
“His velocity was great, he was great locating pitches, and he threw some really good curves,” Scioscia said.
Tino Martinez, who went 2-for-3 with a walk, said the two-time All-Star looked the same as earlier in his career.
“He’s always been a solid pitcher. When he has great stuff, he shuts you down,” Martinez said. “When he doesn’t, he battles and keeps the team in the game.”
Guillen’s homer to left in the fifth inning came on Dicky Gonzalez’s first pitch of the game and made it 6-3. The Devil Rays’ right-hander relieved after Jeremi Gonzalez (0-4) gave up consecutive RBI singles to Vladimir Guerrero and Troy Glaus.
Guillen, who has five homers, hit a solo shot against Detroit on Tuesday and a two-run homer against the Tigers on Wednesday. He has driven in nine runs in the last three games and has 24 RBIs this year.
Scot Shields pitched three perfect innings for his second save.
The Angels scored a run in the second inning without a hit. Jeremi Gonzalez walked Glaus leading off, hit Guillen with a pitch, walked Jeff DaVanon and, after getting two outs, walked David Eckstein to force in a run.
Rocco Baldelli singled home a pair of runs against Sele with two outs in the first.
Tampa Bay, which has lost nine of 11, is 0-6 in Jeremi Gonzalez’s starts this year. He has lost 10 consecutive decisions dating to last year, tying Albie Lopez’s club record.
Jeremi Gonzalez was charged with five runs, seven hits and five walks.
Tampa Bay pitchers have allowed a home run in 17 straight games, tying a club record set in September 2002. … Guerrero got his fourth assist when he threw out Julio Lugo at the plate in the third inning after charging in to field Martinez’s two-out single. … Tampa Bay 3B Aubrey Huff, who has been batting in the third and fourth spots, was dropped to sixth for the first time this season because he’s hitting below .200. He went 1-for-4. Huff got a $14.5 million, three-year contract extension after hitting 34 homers last year and setting franchise records with 107 RBIs, 198 hits and a .311 average. … Anaheim RHP Brendan Donnelly, out with a nose injury since spring training, made his second rehab appearance at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, giving up twohits and striking out four in two innings.