ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Charlie Morton’s luck finally ran out.
He suffered his first loss in 22 starts on Saturday when the Angels hit three homers in a 5-3 victory over Tampa Bay. It was his first loss since Aug. 11, when he pitched for the Houston Astros.
“I’ve pitched poorly enough to lose this year. I just didn’t because our guys put up a bunch of runs and got me off the hook,” said Morton (8-1). “You can lose giving up a run or two. I’ve just been really fortunate to be on a really good team, really good defense, really good offense.”
He struck out nine in six innings, giving up four runs on five hits, including a couple of home runs.
“I didn’t think my best stuff, my best pitches, came until the last few innings,” he said. “That was the kind of game where you make a couple mistakes and you for pay for it.”
David Fletcher, Justin Bour and Kevan Smith homered for the Angels. Fletcher’s three-run home run in the secondspotted left-hander Jose Suarez an early lead in his third major league start, and the Angel bullpen preserved it with 3 1/3 shutout innings.
Hansel Robles pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 12 opportunities.
The Angels’ victory, coming quickly after a bullpen meltdown in a 9-4 loss on Friday night, was good for manager Brad Ausmus’ appetite.
“It’s good to get that off your back,” Ausmus said. “We had a rough one yesterday out of the pen, but to come back less than 24 hours later and get the job done, it certainly makes it a lot easier to enjoy dinner.”
The Angels’ fourth win in five games came without a hit from Mike Trout (0 for 4), Shohei Ohtani (0 for 4) or Albert Puljols, who had the day off.Trout saw it as a big confidence boost for the beleaguered bullpen on a day when veteran Cody Allen was designated for assignment.
“Obviously you’re going to run into games like (Friday night),” Trout said. “But they stepped up today and that’s what you’ve got to do in baseball; you’ve got to turn the page.”
The Rays fell into a virtual first-place tie with the New York Yankees, who were scheduled to play Saturday night.
Brian Goodwin drove in the Angels’ first run with a double and scored on Fletcher’s two-run homer, giving Los Angeles a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Bour made it 4-0 with a homer in the fourth, his sixth of the season.
Yandy Diaz got the Rays back in the game with a three-run homer, his 11th, after hits by Avisail Garcia and Tommy Pham in the sixth. Pham had two singles in his fourth straight multi-hit game.
Smith’s second homer of the season, off reliever Jake Faria, regained a two-run lead for the Angels in the eighth.
Suarez (2-1) gave up three runs on five hits, including Diaz’s homer, in 5 2/3 innings.
“He did everything we needed him to do today,” said Smith. “He was able to go deep into the game, and he did it with all of his pitches. Kept them off balance, and we were able to get to our horses in the bullpen and close the game out.”
Tampa Bay two-way prospect Brendan McKay entered after an opener for Triple-A Durham against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and struck out rehabbing New York Yankees sluggers Aaron Judge (left oblique strain) and Giancarlo Stanton (biceps/shoulder/calf) a combined three times in four at-bats. The lefty, who has a 1.35 ERA in four appearances, retired Judge on a grounder and a strikeout, while striking out Stanton twice.
Angels: SS Tommy La Stella remained out of the lineup with left forearm tightness. … RHP Trevor Cahill threw from up to 180 feet as part of his recovery from right elbow inflammation.
Rays: RHP Tyler Glasnow (strained right forearm) threw briefly off a bullpen mound for the first time. He can come off the 60-day IL on July 10.
Angels: Struggling reliever Cody Allen, 0-2 with a 6.26 ERA in 25 games, was designated for assignment one day after allowing four runs over two-thirds of an innings in Friday’s 9-4 loss to the Rays. RHP Taylor Cole was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake.
Rays: RHP Jake Faria was recalled from Triple-A Durham due to a taxed bullpen and INF Daniel Robertson was optioned to the International League club. Robertson was hitting just .205 with two homers and 15 RBIs in 58 games.
RHP Griffin Channing, one of four pitchers in AL history to have recorded five or more strikeouts in each of his first eight starts, makes his ninth start in Sunday’s series finale against Rays opener Ryne Stanek. The Angels will be trying to get back to .500 for the first time since April 15.
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