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Myers' two homers prove enough for Rays

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- There were two Tampa Bay Rays players who couldn't have been happier to see the calendar turn from August to September, and their contributions Wednesday night showed they indeed are moving onward and upward.

Wil Myers hit two home runs, and Jeremy Hellickson earned his first win in more than a month as the Rays beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-1 Wednesday night at Angel Stadium.

Myers hit a solo homer in the second inning (No. 10) and a two-run homer in the seventh (No. 11), both off Angels starter Jered Weaver, who otherwise shut down the Rays offense.

Hellickson, who spent the past week "resting" in the minor leagues, shut out the Angels on four hits over 5 1/3 innings to earn his first victory since July 26. Hellickson (11-8) had lost his previous five decisions, including four in August, prompting the Rays to send him down Aug. 27 to Class A Charlotte, though he didn't pitch during his minor league stint.

"I'm happy," said Hellickson, who struck out four and walked two while making 71 pitches. "It felt good to get back out there and get another win. I did feel rested, my fastball had a little more life to it and my curveball might've been a little sharper."

Hellickson came out of the game after giving up a double to Mike Trout with one out in the sixth and the Rays clinging to a 1-0 lead. Rays manager Joe Maddon brought in lefty Alex Torres, who got out of the inning with the lead intact.

"If there was a bigger cushion, I might have let him (stay in the game)," Maddon said of his decision to remove Hellickson. "But then again I'm not sure because a big part of it was Jeremy leaving this ballpark feeling really good tonight. And to permit him to stay out there and give something up, that would have been on me."

The victory allowed the Rays to remain 5 1/2 games back of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East, and 2 1/2 games up on the New York Yankees for the second AL wild-card spot. For the Angels, the loss was their 74th of the season, one more than they had all of last season, when they finished 89-73.

Weaver (9-8) gave up three runs and six hits in seven innings, losing for the first time in three starts.

"He threw a lot of pitches early, and it was hot," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "But he did what he does best -- mixed and matched, showed a good fastball at times, got his off-speed pitches into the game, but couldn't quite make the pitch in seventh inning."

The pitch in question was the one Myers hit his second homer of the game to make it 3-0. Myers, who was called up to the big leagues in June, hit a sizzling .352 in July before batting just .209 in August.

"The only way to get through a slump is keep hitting, you can't take games off," Myers said. "The biggest thing is that I'm just ready to hit. I'm not worried about the swing, I'm just looking for a good pitch to hit."

Myers said of his approach while facing Weaver for the first time in his career, "I was just looking for something away because the scouting report says he throws it away. Luckily I was able to adjust on him, because that's where his pitches were."

The Angels scored their only run on Chris Iannetta's pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning off Rays reliever Jake McGee.

Fernando Rodney pitched a scoreless ninth for the Rays and earned his 32nd save.

NOTES: Trout has 23 home runs and 31 stolen bases this season, becoming the youngest player in major league history to reach the 20-30 mark two seasons in a row (30-49 in 2012). Only two other Angels in team history have had 20-30 seasons: Bobby Bonds in 1977 and Devon White in 1987. ... Angels RHP Joe Blanton gave up one run and three hits in 3 1/3 innings of relief Tuesday, marking his first appearance in a game since Aug. 20. He is 2-13 with a 5.66 ERA in 20 starts and is 0-1 with an 8.64 ERA in eight appearances out of the bullpen. ... Rays OF Desmond Jennings, who went 0-for-2 with two walks, is hitting .176 (9-for-51) in 15 games since returning from the disabled list. He had been sidelined due to a fractured left middle finger. Jennings needs one more home run this season to reach 13 and match his career high set last season. ... Rays SS Yunel Escobar went 1-for-4 and is now hitting .305 (40-for-131) since the All-Star break, the second-best mark among shortstops in the majors with at least 60 at-bats. His .395 on-base percentage entering the game was best among major league shortstops since the break.
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