St. Petersburg, FL – Jeremy Hellickson tossed six innings of one-run ball as the Tampa Bay Rays edged the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 3-2, in the middle tilt of a three-game series at Tropicana Field.
Hellickson (3-0) yielded five hits and two walks while striking out five. Wade Davis and Joel Peralta gave up just one hit apiece in the seventh and eighth, respectively and Fernando Rodney gave up an unearned run in the ninth, but survived to record his sixth save of the season.
Ben Zobrist cracked a solo home run, Jeff Keppinger had an RBI-double and Brandon Allen added an RBI with a bases-loaded walk for the Rays, who have won four straight games.
"He worked a great at-bat," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Allen's patience at the plate. "He hasn't played in a couple weeks. He was up there very calmly during that whole moment. I was very impressed with that. I thought it was important to try to add on at that point and we were able to do so."
Vernon Wells slammed a solo homer and Torii Hunter scored a run for the Angels, who have lost three straight. Albert Pujols went 0-for-3 with a walk and is currently mired in an 0-for-19 slump, the longest drought of his career.
C. J. Wilson (2-2) gave up two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out a season-high 11 batters in seven innings of work.
After Los Angeles stranded the bases loaded in the second, the Rays struck first with two runs in the third inning.
Zobrist jumped on a fastball from Wilson and hammered it about six rows back in the left field seats for the first run of the inning. Carlos Pena followed with a single to right and came around to score on a double down the right field line by Keppinger to make it 2-0.
The Angels got one back in the fourth after Wells blasted a middle-in, 3-2 fastball deep into the left field seats to make it a one-run game.
In the home eighth, Evan Longoria walked and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Elliot Johnson before Luke Scott and pinch-hitter Matt Joyce walked with two outs to load the bases. Allen followed as a pinch-hitter for Chris Gimenez and coaxed a walk to bring in Longoria to make it 3-1.
Hunter slapped a single to left to start the Los Angeles ninth, but Rodney battled back to induce groundouts from Wells and Maicer Izturis. The Rays closer then got Erick Aybar to ground one to Zobrist at second for what looked like the game-ending play, but Zobrist bobbled it, which allowed Hunter to score. Rodney remained focused though and got pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo to fly out to left to end the game.
"When you're going to play close games, those little things are really going to count," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We didn't get them done tonight and we didn't do enough to squeak it out."
Hellickson is 6-1 in his last 10 starts at home...Los Angeles dropped to 1-8 this season when the opponent scores the first run of the game...The Angels fell to 0-8 when they score three-or-fewer runs this season...Tampa Bay went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10, while Los Angeles was 0-for-10 with men in scoring position and stranded seven.