Angels 8, Devil Rays 4
“It’s just nice we won,” the Los Angeles right-hander said after a solid performance Monday night in an 8-4 victory that hiked the Angels’ record in July to 16-4. “You just go out there and try to make how many runs you get work.”
Adam Kennedy had three RBIs and Juan Rivera homered for the ninth time this month and drove in two runs to support Lackey (9-6), who allowed four runs and five hits in eight innings to win for the fifth time in his last six starts.
Lackey beat Tampa Bay for the second time since the All-Star break, improving to 6-1 lifetime with a 2.61 ERA against the last-place team. He struck out seven and walked one, and two of the Devil Rays’ runs were unearned.
“Tampa Bay really maximized their hits,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “John had to work for his outs.”
Rivera hit his 15th homer off Jae Seo (0-5) for a 6-0 lead in the fifth. He also had a sacrifice fly in the third, while Kennedy delivered a sacrifice fly in the second and a two-run double in the third.
“He’s given us a big lift, to say the least,” Scioscia said of Rivera, who’s batting .353 with 17 RBIs in 20 games this month.
Seo fell to 0-11 lifetime in the month of July, including losses in all five of the starts he has made for the Devil Rays since being acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a trade on June 27.
Lackey threw a one-hitter to beat Oakland 3-0 on July 7, and held Tampa Bay to five hits for his second consecutive complete game shutout—4-0—on July 14.
This time, he limited the Devil Rays to Ty Wigginton’s first-inning single until Jorge Cantu reached on an error, Travis Lee doubled and Jonny Gomes walked to load the bases with no outs in the fifth.
Dioner Navarro grounded out, driving in Tampa Bay’s first run. Tomas Perez followed with a sacrifice fly, but Lackey escaped further damage by getting the Devil Rays’ most dangerous hitter—Carl Crawford—to tap a dribbler back to the mound.
“Lackey, even not being as sharp as he can, pitched well tonight,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Lackey allowed two runs in the seventh on Lee’s RBI triple and another RBI grounder by Navarro.
Scot Shields pitched the ninth for the Angels, who improved to 8-3 since the All-Star break. The Devil Rays are 2-9—with four of the losses to Los Angeles — and are 41-59 through 100 games of Maddon’s first year as manager.
“I’m not disappointed in anything. Coming into a season like this, there’s going to be a lot of learning,” Maddon said. “You’re seeing some young players who lack a lot of experience. Sometimes they’re pretty good, sometimes not as good. That’s the roller coaster ride we’re on.”
The Angels optioned 1B Kendry Morales to Triple-A Salt Lake City after the game and purchased OF Curtis Pride’s contract from the minor league affiliate. … Kennedy has a season-best 10-game hitting streak. … Rivera’s nine homers this month are two shy of the Angels record for July set by Don Baylor in 1979. … Devil Rays SS Julio Lugo, who has been the subject of trade talks, was scratched from the lineup because of a bruised fingertip on his right hand. He hasn’t played since homering twice during the fifth inning of Tampa Bay’s 13-12 victory over Baltimore on Saturday. He was removed from the game the following inning and had Sunday off. … Angels CF Chone Figgins snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a fourth-inning double. … Anderson went 3-for-5 to break a 3-for-25 slump.