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Late homer lifts Los Angeles Angels past Tampa Bay Rays 4-3

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Joe Maddon said he woke up Friday morning with that same "little buzz going on inside" that he had during the intense Yankees series this week.

"There's no letting up right now," he said.

And though the Rays showed the same type of fight against the out-of-contention Angels in a 4-3 loss Friday that they did during their series against New York, reliever Dan Wheeler found himself in another frustrating spot.

Wheeler gave up a go-ahead solo homer to Brandon Wood to lead off the ninth, earning his second loss in four days and drawing boos from the Tropicana Field crowd of 23,215.

Wheeler, who said it was a fastball with "awful" location, has given up hits to the past four batters he has faced. Maddon said he hasn't been "throwing the ball where he wants to."

"There's not much I can say," Wheeler said.

"I don't really have any words for what's going on right now."

What likely hurt more for Wheeler was that just like Tuesday — when the Yankees' Jorge Posada homered off him in the 10th for a New York win — the Rays had rallied to tie the score.

Worse, the Yankees were a strike away from losing to Baltimore on Friday but won 4-3 on Alex Rodriguez's three-run homer. That dropped the Rays out of first place to a half-game behind the Yankees in the American League East.

Wade Davis, who had matched a club record with a seven-game winning streak, pitched well but didn't factor in the decision, leaving after six with the score 3-3. He finished with a season-high eight strikeouts.

"I thought Wade Davis had really good stuff," Maddon said.

But Angels right-hander Dan Haren was better.

Haren, celebrating his 30th birthday, entered the game having allowed three earned runs over his previous 27 innings. The only hit the Rays had through the first five innings was a solo homer by Dan Johnson.

"We had really bad swings on (Haren) all night long," Maddon said. "The ball looked like a shuttlecock coming in there. It looked like badminton."

Said Johnson: "The whole arsenal (Haren) was throwing at us, he was cutting it, sinking it. His split was really moving. He was locating."

Carl Crawford finally cracked Haren in the sixth. With two outs and two on, he capped a nine-pitch at-bat with a two-run triple over the head of leftfielder Bobby Abreu to tie the score at 3.

The Rays (88-58) had a golden opportunity to pull ahead in the eighth. They had runners on first and second, one out and Evan Longoria at the plate. But rookie Desmond Jennings, pinch-running at second, was breaking for third base on a steal attempt when Michael Kohn caught him with an inside move, throwing him out at third.

"He got me," Jennings said.

With first base now open, Kohn walked Longoria intentionally before walking Matt Joyce. He struck out Johnson with the bases loaded to thwart the threat.

Maddon had no problem with Jennings' attempt, saying the runner would have been safe had Kohn's move not "caught him with his pants down."

Said Jennings: "It wasn't a good feeling."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Angels 4

Rays 3

Late homer lifts Los Angeles Angels past Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 09/17/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 18, 2010 1:00am]
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