Devil Rays 7, Angels 2

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—The way Scott Kazmir has been pitching lately, it’s easy for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays left-hander to make light of a problem he’s had with high pitch counts this season.

The 23-year-old allowed three hits and one run in seven innings and beat the Los Angeles Angels 7-2 on Wednesday night for his second straight win at home after going more than a year without a victory at Tropicana Field.

And the 2006 All-Star did it while throwing a season-low 94 pitches, ending a stretch of nine straight starts in which he threw more than 100 pitches and didn’t last more than six innings.

“It might be a career low,” Kazmir (7-6) said, jokingly.

“It’s all starting to come together now. I feel really comfortable out there,” said Kazmir, who has struggled to regain the form that made him one of the top young pitchers in the AL the first half of last season. “It’s not like I’m worrying about mechanics or anything now. I’m just worrying about where I want to put the ball.”

Ty Wigginton homered and Carlos Pena hit a three-run double to back Kazmir, who walked one and struck out six in his longest outing since going seven innings in a loss at Kansas City on June 1.

Wigginton’s streak of eight consecutive hits ended in the second inning against Bartolo Colon (6-5), but the Devil Rays second baseman homered off reliever Dustin Moseley to begin a four-run sixth that broke the game open.

Pena, who has a career-high 14-game hitting streak, finished the scoring in the sixth with a double that caromed off one of the catwalks supporting the roof of the domed stadium to drive in three runs and make it 7-1.

Kazmir gave up Reggie Willits’ leadoff double and Orlando Cabrera’s RBI grounder in the first, then limited the Angels to singles by Willits and Vladimir Guererro over the next six innings.

“That was the best outing of the year for him,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “That’s what we’ve been looking for.”

Al Reyes, activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game, pitched the eighth and Shawn Camp worked the ninth for the combined six-hitter. Tampa Bay won for just the fourth time in 20 games.

“Records don’t mean anything when you’re playing a ballgame,” said manager Mike Scioscia, whose first-place Angels have lost 11 of 17.

“The Rays are playing aggressive baseball, they got some good pitching the last couple of nights, and they beat us. We need to play better. We’ve had trouble this last 12 or 15 games getting into the way we need to play.”

After collecting 32 hits over their previous two games, the Devil Rays didn’t break through against Colon until the fourth inning. The Angels starter walked the first two batters of the inning before Delmon Young followed with Tampa Bay’s first hit—an RBI single that tied the score at 1.

Brendan Harris followed with a single to load the bases with no outs, but Colon escaped further damage by striking out Wigginton and Jonny Gomes and getting Dioner Navarro to pop to shortstop.

Los Angeles wasn’t as fortunate in the fifth, when Akinori Iwamura singled and Carl Crawford doubled to start a two-run inning. Iwamura scored on B.J. Upton’s RBI grounder, then Crawford stole third base and trotted home for a 3-1 lead when catcher Jose Molina’s throw to the bag skipped into left field.

Colon, who has lost five of six decisions following a 5-0 start, allowed five hits and three runs in five innings. He struck out seven, walked four and hit a batter before being replaced by Moseley.

“He threw the ball really good today. That’s all you can ask for,” Molina said of Colon. “He’s a second-half pitcher. He’ll be all right. Today was proof of that.”

Wigginton went 4-for-4 in his previous two games to tie a Tampa Bay record with hits in eight consecutive plate appearances. The streak ended when he bounced into a force play in the second.

After fanning with the bases loaded in the fourth, Wigginton hit Moseley’s first pitch over the 404-foot sign in center field for his 14th homer in the sixth.

Notes

The major league record for consecutive plate appearances with a hit is 12, set by Mike Higgins in 1938 and matched by Walt Dropo in 1952. … The Angels optioned RHP Ervin Santana to Triple-A Salt Lake City. A 16-game winner last year, he’s 5-11 with a 6.22 ERA this season. The Angels plan to promote LHP Joe Saunders from Salt Lake City to replace Santana in the rotation. … Young leads all major league rookies with 108 hits. He’s the only rookie with three different hitting streak of at least 10 games.

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