Vernon Wells runs Angels into 6-5 win over the Rays
Vernon Wells hasn't done much with his bat this season. But Sunday he helped win a game for the Angels with his feet, staying in a rundown long enough for Torii Hunter to race home with the go-ahead run in a 6-5 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
Wells, who had just one hit in the three-game series, came to the plate with Hunter on third and one out in the eighth inning and drew a walk. Hank Conger followed by bouncing a ball to second for what looked to be an inning-ending double play. But rather than throwing to second, Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist tried to tag Wells, who avoided the tag long enough for Hunter to score the winning run.
That capped a comeback that saw the Angels erase a 5-0 first-inning deficit.
With scheduled starter Jered Weaver scratched with an intestinal virus, the Angel sent rookie Tyler Chatwood to the mound and the Rays jumped on his pitches immediately.
Seven of the nine Rays to bat in the inning got hits -– but only two balls were hit well. Two players appeared to have been thrown out on the bases only to have been called safe –- the first on a close play at third, the other when third baseman Alberto Callaspo dropped the ball. Both players later scored.
And three of the run-scoring singles in the inning came on two-strike pitches.
But Chatwood eventually settled down, retiring 10 of the next 12 hitters before giving up a double and walk to start the fifth, ending his day. Scott Downs came in from the bullpen to get three ground balls, stranding both runners. Downs wound up going a season-long two innings, allowing only one hit.
Rich Thompson, Fernando Rodney and Jordan Walden followed Downs with each pitching a scoreless inning. Walden pitched a perfect ninth to earn his fifth save.
That gave the Angels time to battle back against Rays rookie Alex Cobb, who was making his big-league debut.
Cobb gave up a solo home run to Conger in the second then got wild in the fifth when the Angels used three walks, two singles and an error to score four times, tying the score at 5-5.
Bobby Abreu and Mark Trumbo each had two hits for the Angels, with Abreu scoring one run, driving in another and stealing a base. Howie Kendrick walked twice, scored once and also had a steal.
-- Kevin Baxter in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Photo: Angels catcher Hank Conger is congratulated by center fielder Peter Bourjos after hitting a home run in the second inning Sunday against Tamp Bay. Credit: Kim Klement / US Presswire