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Rays muscle up on Saunders, Angels

Tampa Bay hits three consecutive home runs in the second inning on the way to a 13-4 victory.

June 10, 2008|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

Long considered the closest thing to a bye on the Angels' home schedule, Tampa Bay is now a new kind of sure thing: sure to cause problems.

The Rays prevented Joe Saunders from becoming a 10-game winner for the first time and rendered moot a significant rally by the Angels' slumbering offense Monday night at Angel Stadium during a 13-4 victory.

Shortly after the Angels scored four runs to take a short-lived lead, the Rays splurged for a five-run, fifth-inning outburst against Saunders. And they were only getting started on the way to an 18-hit attack.

Saunders (9-3) gave up nine hits and a season-high eight runs in only 4 2/3 innings, his worst outing of the season. He also helped Tampa Bay make franchise history by giving up three consecutive homers in the second inning, all on sinkers that caught too much of the plate.

"They weren't sinking very good," Saunders said.

Evan Longoria finished with two homers and Dioner Navarro had four hits and drove in four runs to make a winner of Joe Maddon, the former Angels bench coach who had dropped his first eight games as Rays manager at Angel Stadium.

Maddon had described his team before the game as "almost downright pugilistic" after a fight last week with the Boston Red Sox and a squabble Sunday in which Navarro and teammate Matt Garza engaged in a dugout shoving match after disagreeing over pitch selection.

"I think it's a good thing," Maddon said. "We had a good discussion and handled everything in-house. I'm very satisfied. I feel very good about it having a positive impact on the near and far future, so I'm good with it."

The Rays certainly channeled their energies in productive fashion a day later, with Navarro's two-run double to right-center field serving as the big blow during the fifth-inning eruption that transformed a 4-3 deficit into an 8-4 advantage.

The Angels had recovered from an early 3-0 deficit with one run in the second inning, another in the third and two more in the fourth on Torii Hunter's 200th career homer, a two-run blast against Tampa Bay starter Edwin Jackson (4-5).

"Offensively, we saw some good signs tonight," said Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, whose team had 12 hits but was only one for nine with runners in scoring position. "We had good at-bats all night, they just kept getting it done offensively and we couldn't close out innings."

Vladimir Guerrero equaled a career high with four hits -- three singles and a double -- but was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double in the eighth inning. Guerrero beat the throw from center fielder Justin Ruggiano, but his foot came off the bag and shortstop Jason Bartlett applied the tag.

Longoria, the former Long Beach State star, started the barrage of three consecutive homers in the second inning with a blast that left so little doubt that left fielder Garret Anderson barely flinched. Willy Aybar followed with a homer on the second pitch he saw from Saunders, who then reached a full count on Navarro before Navarro homered to left.

It was the first time the Angels had given up three consecutive homers since Toronto's Craig Grebeck, Raul Mondesi and Carlos Delgado homered against Jason Dickson on April 18, 2000, at SkyDome.

"When you make mistakes like that to a good team, they're going to make you pay for it," Saunders said. "It's just one of those games you have to forget about."

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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