Escobar won his career-best fifth consecutive decision and Garret Anderson drove in two runs to help the AL West-leading Angels avoid a three-game sweep with a 3-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Thursday.
“After losing the first two games here, we really wanted to win this one today,” Escobar said. “I don’t feel like I’m going to win, but I feel like I’m going to do my best to keep my team in the ballgame. If you’re a starter that’s what you’re looking for.”
Escobar (11-3) gave up nine hits over 7 2-3 innings. He hasn’t lost in eight starts since May 31. The right-hander had five strikeouts and three walks.
“Give him credit. I faced him four times and he threw one hitter’s pitch and I fouled it,” Tampa Bay first baseman Carlos Pena said. “He didn’t make many mistakes.”
Escobar has given up three earned runs or less in 15 of his 18 starts.
“He’s been good all year for us,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I thought he did a great job of creating depth today, changing speeds.”
Anderson hit a two-run single in the sixth off Andy Sonnanstine (1-5) to put the Angels ahead 3-0. Vladimir Guerrero, who singled earlier in the inning, scored on Anderson’s hit for his 1,000th career run.
Los Angeles went up 1-0 in the second on Robb Quinlan’s RBI grounder.
Sonnanstine allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings. The right-hander is winless in his last seven starts, including five losses. He struck out six and walked none.
The Devil Rays loaded the bases—on a double and two walks—with two outs in the second, but Carl Crawford grounded out. It was only the fourth time in 11 at-bats this season that Crawford didn’t get a hit with the bases loaded.
Tampa Bay went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position against Escobar.
“It was one of those things, we couldn’t get a key hit,” Crawford said.
The Angels have not homered in 12 straight games, a span of 114 innings. The only longer drought in team history was 18 games from May 16-June 2, 1976. Mike Napoli hit the last Angels homer in the eighth inning July 1 at Baltimore.
“I don’t even think about,” Anderson said. “Some stuff we don’t even know about unless you come tell us or something because we’ll be playing everyday. We don’t have time to think about, oh, we haven’t hit a home run in I don’t know how many games. That never comes up.”
The Devil Rays, who have lost 17 of 21, made a series of postgame moves to prepare for a four-game weekend series that includes a day-night doubleheader Saturday in New York.
Infielder Jorge Cantu was optioned to Triple-A Durham and outfielder Dustan Mohr designated for assignment to clear roster spots for two pitchers from Triple A Durham. The Devil Rays purchased the contract of reliever Scott Dohmann and recalled right-hander Jae Kuk Ryu.
Anderson has three RBIs in his last 16 games. … Guerrero has only two homers in his last 38 games. He went 1-for-3 and was hit near the hand by a first-inning pitch. … Crawford stole two bases in the first, giving him 18 consecutive successful attempts. Crawford’s bid to tie his team record of 19 in a row set in 2003 was unsuccessful when the left fielder was thrown out trying to steal second in the seventh. … Devil Rays RF Delmon Young singled in the sixth to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. … Pena was hitless in three at-bats and had his career-best 14-game hitting streak ended.