The Tampa Bay Rays went through Dan Haren and Jered Weaver in the first two games of this series against the Los Angeles Angels as though they were journeyman pitchers. Then C.J. Wilson came along, and the same thing happened.
Pinch-hitter Carlos Pena delivered a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning, Evan Longoria also hit a two-run shot and the Rays overcame an eight-run deficit against Wilson to beat Los Angeles 10-8 on Saturday night.
"I really felt all along that we had a chance, and I mean that sincerely," manager Joe Maddon said. "Wilson wasn't as sharp as he normally can be, and we've been doing a nice job of scoring runs. I thought our at-bats were good early in the game. We weren't getting anything done, but I've seen Wilson a lot, so I know when he's really on top of his game and when he's not. And I thought he might be a little bit vulnerable."
Jake McGee (4-2) earned the win with a perfect seventh and Fernando Rodney got three outs for his major league-leading 38th save. The Rays, held to one hit over the first four innings by Wilson, rallied from an 8-0 hole with seven runs in the fifth against the All-Star left-hander.
"Obviously, C.J. lost his release point. And when you've got an eight-run lead, you can't walk people," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He got behind in counts and ended up putting some guys on. They got some key hits and got back in the game. It's definitely disappointing."
Rodney ended the game by striking out Erick Aybar and retiring pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis on a grounder with runners at second and third.
Tampa Bay tied it in the sixth with an unearned run against Jason Isringhausen after Ryan Roberts doubled, advanced on a passed ball by Chris Iannetta and scored on Jose Lobaton's sacrifice fly. Pena, batting for Sean Rodriguez, hit his 16th homer into the lower seats in the right-field corner on a 2-2 pitch from Kevin Jepsen (2-2) after a leadoff single by Jeff Keppinger.
"To be able to help my ballclub out like this with the simple act of hitting a home run, it feels so good," Pena said. "I felt like a little kid running around the bases. It was awesome.
"It shows a lot of heart. That's a very tough team over there, and to be able to come back like that — especially against such a great starter, and getting good at-bat after good at-bat, this team showed me a lot and we showed ourselves a lot. We're never out of a ballgame."
Wilson is winless in a career-worst 10 consecutive starts (0-5) with a 5.70 ERA since beating Baltimore 7-3 on June 26 at Camden Yards. The knockout blow for him was Longoria's two-out, two-run homer after an RBI single by Sam Fuld, a bases-loaded walk to Desmond Jennings and a three-run double by Ben Zobrist.
"The only reason I can be upset is because of my mistakes," Wilson said. "I watched that inning again, and I saw that I overthrew the ball to Zobrist. That's really what it all boils down to. I tried to do too much and he got a hit. It's frustrating when a guy gets a hit in that particular situation because you're ahead in the count. It was a throw, more than a pitch. That's really all I'd change about that inning."
Rays starter Alex Cobb threw 59 pitches in 2 2-3 innings, giving up eight runs and 12 hits against an offense that came in batting .207 against Tampa Bay in the eight previous meetings this season — and was 4 for 44 with runners in scoring position. The 24-year-old right-hander, who made his big league debut at Angel Stadium on May 1, 2011, had won his previous three starts following a 3-1 loss at the "Big A" on July 27 against Haren.
Rookie sensation Mike Trout homered and drove in three runs for the Angels. Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer, his 27th.
The game started on an ominous note for the Rays when B.J. Upton lined a pitch off the fence in left-center, missed first base by at least three feet while making the turn and had to settle for a single. He then was picked off by Wilson and subsequently thrown out at second by Pujols.
It got worse for the Rays in the bottom half, as Cobb fell behind 3-0 after just 13 pitches. Trout led off with his 23rd homer on the right-hander's second pitch, hitting the rock formation in left-center on the fly. It began a string of five straight hits, including RBI singles by Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo.
"Cobb was just off today. He was throwing the ball down the middle and they weren't missing it," Maddon said.
The Angels increased the margin to 7-0 in the second. Trout singled home a run, then stole his franchise-record 30th consecutive base and scored on Torii Hunter's double. Pujols followed with a towering drive far beyond the bullpen gate on Cobb's 36th pitch.
The speedy Trout drove in the Angels' eighth run in the fourth with an infield single.
The Rays outscored Los Angeles 34-11 over their last six meetings, a stretch that began with three consecutive shutouts. They won the series opener 7-0 and routed the Angels 12-3 Friday night.
NOTES: The Angels welcomed back 27 players from the 2002 World Series championship team to mark the 10th anniversary of their seven-game triumph over the San Francisco Giants. The entire squad was inducted into the Angels' Hall of Fame. ... Wilson was 5-0 with a 1.30 ERA in the seven starts that preceded this winless drought. ... Upton struck out his next three times up after his baserunning gaffe.