ANAHEIM, Calif. – Mike Napoli hit a grand slam, Hideki Matsui doubled in three runs and Howie Kendrick had four hits to help the Los Angeles Angels defeat Tampa Bay 12-3 on Wednesday and prevent the Rays from sweeping a series in Anaheim for the first time.
Tampa Bay began the day tied with the Yankees atop the AL East standings with identical 78-48 records, best in the majors. New York played at Toronto later.
The Angels stopped a three-game slide overall and a four-game skid against the Rays at home. They got outscored 14-6 in losing the first two games of the series and came into the finale 2-for-25 with runners in scoring position.
John Jaso homered on the second pitch from Dan Haren in the first inning, similar to Monday when B.J. Upton homered on the first pitch of the game in the Rays' 4-3 win.
This time, though, the Angels' bats answered.
Their offense put up four runs in the first, four in the third and three in the fourth.
Haren (2-4) allowed one run and three hits in six innings, struck out eight and walked four to end a two-game skid. The Angels had scored just 15 runs — 2.5 per game — in his first six starts since being traded by Arizona on July 25.
Jeff Niemann (10-4) gave up eight hits and a career-high 10 runs in 3 1-3 innings, struck out two and walked three on a day when the temperature was 91 degrees at gametime.
Earlier Wednesday, the right-hander was reinstated from the 15-day DL, where he had been for the first time in his major league career with a strained right shoulder.
In the first, Matsui doubled in the right-field corner with the bases loaded, giving the Angels a 3-1 lead. Napoli followed with a RBI double.
Niemann opened the third with consecutive singles to Alberto Callaspo and Torii Hunter before walking Matsui to load the bases.
That set up Napoli's 21st homer — and second career grand slam — off a 2-2 pitch that landed in the left-field seats, making it 8-1.
In the fourth, Niemann gave up a leadoff double to Kendrick before Callaspo flied out and Hunter walked.
Niemann turned things over to Andy Sonnanstine, who promptly walked Matsui to load the bases. He then walked Napoli, forcing in the Angels' ninth run. Reggie Willits struck out before Jeff Mathis hit a ground-rule double in the right corner, scoring Hunter and Matsui and extending the lead to 11-1.
Kendrick's RBI single in the sixth made it 12-1.
The Rays got a two-run double from Jaso in the seventh.
NOTES: The Rays ended their West Coast trip with a 4-3 record. ... Their entire traveling party wore custom-made Braysers (Rays blazers) out of town. The jackets are blue-and-white plaid with a sunburst on the lapel, the idea of manager Joe Maddon. ... The Angels are off Thursday before opening a three-game series against Baltimore. ... A male fan jumped out of the lower right-field seats and ran onto the field in the eighth inning. He scaled the wall in center before security could apprehend him.