Cobb cruises with help from pair of homers

Cobb cruises with help from pair of homers

ANAHEIM -- Logan Morrison and Steven Souza Jr. homered, and the Rays fended off a late Angels rally to emerge with a 6-3 win on Saturday night, clinching a series victory at Angel Stadium.

The Rays pounded out 14 hits against the Angels, including Morrison's two-run blast in the third and Souza's solo shot in the seventh. Corey Dickerson, Shane Peterson and Jesus Sucre produced multi-hit efforts for the Rays, with Sucre adding a pair of RBIs.

Luis Valbuena, who entered Saturday batting .181, supplied all three of the Angels' runs with his seventh and eighth home runs of the season. Valbuena's first homer put the Angels on the board in the seventh, and his second trimmed the Rays' lead to 6-3 in the ninth.

Valbuena's two-run home run

"Forget the first half," Valbuena said. "My new season starts today. What happened in the past is in the past. I'm a new guy, and everytime I go out there, I try to do my best for the team."

Valbuena starting to live up to potential

Tampa Bay's offensive production proved to be more than enough for right-hander Alex Cobb, who allowed one run on six hits while walking three and striking out four over 7 2/3 innings. Cobb opened the game with six scoreless innings before Valbuena broke up his shutout bid with his first homer of the night.

"At the end of the day, Alex made some big pitches when he had to to keep their lineup quiet," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Cash on offense and Cobb

Right-hander JC Ramirez produced an uneven start for the Angels, surrendering four runs on eight hits over six innings.

"JC, there was a lot of action early," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "They had a bunch of hits early and he made some pitches to minimize some damage. Morrison got ahold of a fastball for the home run. I thought JC's stuff was OK. Not bad, but he had trouble making a pitch at times when he had to."

Scioscia on 6-3 loss to Rays

Angels center fielder Mike Trout went 2-for-3 with a walk in his second game back from the disabled list, but he also committed a defensive lapse. In the seventh, Dickerson lifted a routine fly ball to center field, but Trout lost track of it, letting it drop for a single and putting runners on the corners for the Rays. Evan Longoria followed with a sacrifice fly, extending Tampa Bay's lead to 5-0.

With the loss, the Angels (45-49) dropped four games under .500 for the third time this season and fell four games behind the Yankees for the second American League Wild Card spot. The Rays (49-43), meanwhile, maintained their place atop the Wild Card standings and remain 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Red Sox in the AL East.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
LoMo goes deep: Ramirez dodged major trouble in the first two innings, but Morrison delivered a big blow in the third, hammering a two-run shot that extended the Rays' lead to 3-0. On the seventh pitch of his at-bat, Morrison crushed a 3-2 fastball 416 feet to center field, snapping an 0-for-15 funk. The 29-year-old first baseman now has a career-high 25 homers, which is tied for third in the American League. More >

"Sometimes you feel like it's never going to come," Morrison said. "But it's baseball, man, it's not easy. So go out there every day. Try and stay consistent with your approach and just grind them out."

Morrison's two-run home run

Angels mount last-ditch rally: The Angels entered the bottom of the ninth trailing, 6-1, but they showed some late life thanks to Valbuena's two-run homer off of Jumbo Diaz. After Yunel Escobar led off the inning with a single, Valbuena crushed a 2-2 slider to right field, bringing the Halos within three runs and securing his first multi-homer game of the season. Still, Diaz sealed the win for the Rays by coaxing a flyout from Martin Maldonado and striking out Cliff Pennington to end the game.

QUOTABLE
"I think I'm pitching to contact. There's been a few times where I've looked up in the fifth or seventh and realized my pitch count was pretty low. That takes a couple of things. It takes your defense to make some big plays behind you. And it takes less strikeouts than you'd normally have. But like tonight, for example, it felt like everywhere they hit the ball, we had guys positioned where they should be and making some really nice plays behind me." -- Cobb on how he's managed to pitch at least six innings in each of his last seven starts

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Souza's homer gave him 18 for the season, establishing a single-season career high. The Rays right-fielder had 17 last season.

Souza Jr.'s solo home run

Despite getting Trout back in their lineup on Friday, the Angels have not been able to solve their offensive woes, plating only four runs and going 0-for-11 with runners in scoring positions over their first two games of the second half.

"Tonight, I really thought we had good at-bats," Scioscia said. "We all did. We hit a lot of balls on the screws. Cobb did a good job, but we hit our share of balls hard and nothing to show for it. We're going to turn the page on that."

RAYS ROSTER MOVE
The Rays optioned infielder Taylor Featherston after the game and activated infielder Tim Beckham from the 10-day disabled list. More >

WHAT'S NEXT
Rays: Chris Archer (7-5, 3.95) gets the nod Sunday afternoon when the Rays wrap up their three-game series against the Angels with a 3:37 p.m. ET contest at Angel Stadium. He is 5-1 with a 2.48 ERA in six career starts against the Angels.

Angels: The Angels will send rookie right-hander Parker Bridwell (3-1, 3.24 ERA) to the mound in Sunday's series finale against the Rays at 12:35 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Bridwell, who will be recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake before the game, will make his first career start against Tampa Bay.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.