Angels waste early lead in loss to Rays


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ST. PETERSBURG — For the second consecutive night, the Angels got a strong performance from their starting pitcher and just enough early offense to ease the pressure.
But unlike Thursday, the Halos could not withstand the Rays’ sixth-inning surge on Friday, falling 9-4 at Tropicana Field.
“When you have a

ST. PETERSBURG — For the second consecutive night, the Angels got a strong performance from their starting pitcher and just enough early offense to ease the pressure.

But unlike Thursday, the Halos could not withstand the Rays’ sixth-inning surge on Friday, falling 9-4 at Tropicana Field.

“When you have a four-run lead at that point in the middle of the game, you feel pretty good about your chances,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “But baseball games aren’t scripted. Sometimes, the other team comes back, and that’s what they did.”

Box score

The Angels jumped on reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell early on Friday, touching the left-hander for four runs (three earned) on five hits and four walks over 3 1/3 innings. Systematically attacking the Rays’ defense with a combination of hard-hit and well-placed balls, the Halos scored all of their runs in blue-collar fashion, beginning with first-inning scores on a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring single.

Shohei Ohtani — who hit for the cycle on Thursday — walked with the bases loaded for an RBI the easy way to increase the Angels’ lead to 3-0 in the second. Ohtani then nearly hit into a bases-loaded, inning-ending double play in the fourth, but he lucked out when first baseman Yandy Diaz bobbled the throw and allowed a run to score.

For a while, it seemed as though every time the Angels loaded the bases, the heart of the order was up to bat. While it would’ve been a prime situation of which to take advantage, the Halos’ 3-5 hitters finished 2-for-13 on the night and managed to plate just one run in each of the early bases-loaded situations.

As the Angels squandered opportunities to put the game away early, the Rays only managed to heat up over time. Starter Andrew Heaney no-hit Tampa Bay over his first 3 2/3 frames before Austin Meadows broke up the bid with a fourth-inning single to left.

It was one of just two hits Heaney allowed during his five-plus innings, and he limited the Rays to a single run. But the left-hander had reached 99 pitches by the sixth, and a leadoff double to Meadows spelled the end of his night.

Though the team’s night ended poorly, Heaney — who has struggled at points this season against home runs — felt encouraged by pitching successfully against a strong team without his full arsenal.

“He got into a few deep counts and his pitch count got up a little early, but he certainly held up his end of the bargain,” Ausmus said.

“It’s always nice when you score runs early like we did,” Heaney said. “It’s a little bit easier to pitch for contact, especially when you don’t have good stuff.”

Unfortunately, the early lead dissipated before Heaney even hit the showers. The good he did was undone quickly, and what followed in his wake was a line of frustrating bullpen performances that left the Halos wishing for an early-game mulligan that would’ve given them a bit more wiggle room.

Much like Thursday, Tampa Bay saved its offensive push for the latter innings, scoring nine runs over the sixth and seventh frames. Luis Garcia, Ty Buttrey and Cody Allen took the brunt of the attack, with the Angels needing Garcia and Buttrey to wade through the sticky sixth, during which the Rays scored five and batted around.

Allen was tagged for all four runs in the seventh, allowing four hits and walking two over two-thirds of an inning. The difficult frame ballooned his ERA to 6.26.

“Obviously this year is not the bounce-back season I was hoping for,” Allen said. “The only thing I can do is just try and get better. Either I’m going to get better or they’re going to find someone else who does. That’s the reality of the game.”

Heaney’s approach was a little more forgiving, with the 28-year-old ready to leave Friday in the rearview mirror and press forward.

“The way this ended up is tough, but that’s a rarity for our bullpen,” he said. “When they’ve been handed a lead, they’ve been awesome, so I think you just chalk that one up to a tough outing against a good team.”

Dawn Klemish is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Tampa. Follow her on Twitter @Sportsgal25.



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