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Frustrated Kazmir suffers loss to Halos

Kazmir suffers loss to Halos

ANAHEIM -- Forget about how well Scott Kazmir pitched Wednesday. The Rays left-hander did not want to talk about that. Instead, he guided the conversation in another direction.

"Let's talk about that seventh inning," Kazmir said.

The seventh inning turned out to be Kazmir and the Rays' undoing in a 4-2 loss to the Angels in front of a crowd of 36,622 at Angel Stadium.

Maicer Izturis' two-run single in the seventh put the Angels up, 3-2, and chased Kazmir, but what happened the batter before had Kazmir speaking his mind.

Kazmir thought he had struck out Reggie Willits. Had the pitch been called a strike, Izturis would not have hit, the inning would have been over and the Rays would have maintained their 2-1 lead. Instead, home-plate umpire Derryl Cousins ruled the pitch ball four. Frustrated, Kazmir squatted on the mound and stared at Cousins in disbelief.

Kazmir felt like he had struck out Willits in the sixth inning, only to have Cousins call ball four. Then he felt like Cousins made a makeup call on the next hitter.

"When you get told right before the game that he doesn't call anybody out on strikes and then it happens, and then the very next pitch you see a makeup call [against the next hitter, Izturis] that was so bad that it was literally almost in the dirt," Kazmir said. "It's just amazing."

What happened in the sixth made what happened in the seventh that much harder for Kazmir to stomach.

"That's just not right," Kazmir said. "And it was a crucial time of the game."

Joe Maddon went to the mound to lift Kazmir after Izturis' hit and used the opportunity to express his displeasure to Cousins about his strike zone, which earned the Rays manager his second ejection of the season.

"I didn't like the calls," said Maddon, who has now been ejected eight times as manager of the Rays, with four of those ejections coming against the Angels. "I didn't like the calls at all. I was disappointed in that and let my voice be heard."

Maddon said all he expects from any umpire is a consistent strike zone, "that things don't change when it gets hot."

Kazmir began Wednesday's game like he had no-hit stuff, retiring the first 14 batters he faced before Gary Matthews Jr. stepped to the plate in the fifth. He hit Kazmir's first pitch into the Angels' bullpen over the left-field fence to tie the score at 1.

Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, while Kazmir pitched well, John Lackey started for the Angels and continued his mastery over the Rays despite struggling in the first inning.

Akinori Iwamura tripled to lead off the game and scored on Carl Crawford's single to put Tampa Bay up, 1-0. Two outs later, the Rays had loaded the bases after Lackey walked Evan Longoria and Willy Aybar. But the veteran right-hander managed to retire Dioner Navarro on a groundout to first that ended the inning.

Navarro's sacrifice fly in the seventh scored Longoria to give Tampa Bay its second run against Lackey and a 2-1 lead. But that would be all the runs the Rays would score, moving Lackey's career record against them to 9-1 with a 2.36 ERA.

Lackey "got in trouble in the first inning, then seemed to settle down," Crawford said. "He was pitching well after that -- mixing it up, two-seamers away. He pitched a good game. I don't want to take nothing away from him."

Crawford acknowledged the squandered opportunity in the first.

"It came back to haunt us today," he said. "Just one of those deals where you think you're going to get more runs later in the game."

By losing their final game of the series, the Rays lost the series and finished their nine-game road trip at 3-6.

The road trip "should have been better," Maddon said. "We know that. ... We're not there yet. We have to play better in hostile moments in different environments. We're not there yet."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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