Saturday, February 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays bounce back from perfect game, beat Los Angeles Angels 7-0

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Rays talked a lot Thursday afternoon about how they weren't going to let Felix Hernandez's perfect game the day before have any lingering effect.

Then they went out and showed it.

With homers by Ben Zobrist, B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria, the Rays rolled over the Angels 7-0, putting an end to the two-game skid that followed their season-high seven-game winning streak.

They improved to 64-54, moving back to within six games of the AL East-leading Yankees and into a tie for the AL wild-card lead with the Orioles.

"Getting one hit was nice early, and everybody just poured it on," said Zobrist, who got them started with a second- inning blast. "Definitely a good win after (Wednesday), and it helped us forget it a lot easier."

The Rays have had good experience in rebounding. They won eight of their next 12 games after Mark Buehrle's July 23, 2009, perfect game against them in Chicago, and 10 of 13 after Dallas Braden's May 9, 2010, feat in Oakland.

"We know how to bounce back, we've kind of been there before,'' Upton said. "I was kind of the joke around the clubhouse (Thursday). So I think we handled it pretty well and regrouped.''

It also helped that they had David Price on the mound. Price dominated for his seven innings, allowing only three hits and striking out eight, to log his team-record eighth straight win and major-league-leading 16th overall.

With 11 consecutive quality starts as well, Price seems to be in the best stretch of his career.

"I guess it has to be,'' Price said. "I feel like I've thrown the ball pretty well over the last however many starts it is.''

With Burke Badenhop and Wade Davis finishing, the Rays blanked the otherwise-potent Angels for a third straight time, and 32 innings overall.

"After (Wednesday's) difficult game, I was really proud of our boys," manager Joe Maddon said. "The thing I love about our group is that we don't let it bother us, and we shouldn't. And when David pitches a game like that, it permits you to get it going."

As quiet as the Rays' bats were Wednesday — and, actually, for most of Tuesday, as they had gone their last 17 innings in Seattle without a run — the story was how loud they were Thursday against Angels starter Dan Haren.

In his first at-bat, Zobrist homered on a 2-and-2 pitch. "We were glad to get a run on the board early for Price,'' Zobrist said.

After Zobrist's homer, which was reviewed by the umpires to make sure it went out, gave the Rays the lead in the second, they added four runs in the fourth.

Upton got them started with his fourth homer of the road trip and 14th overall, a loud blast to left. "B.J. really got into that one,'' Maddon said.

Longoria, playing before dozens of friends and relatives in his hometown stadium, singled and then tested his left hamstring a bit in going from first to third, albeit gingerly, on Zobrist's double.

Jeff Keppinger scored them both with a single to left, then came around himself on a Carlos Peña single and Ryan Roberts' sac fly.

Longoria saved himself any further running in the fifth by hitting a ball over the centerfield wall for a two-run homer, his first since coming off the disabled list Aug. 7. In 14 games at Angel Stadium, Longoria is hitting .431 with five homers and 15 RBIs.

Longoria said Zobrist's homer was key, but what they did after was better. "It takes all the pressure off us getting a hit, scoring a run, not getting beat 1-0,'' Longoria said. "But I was happy with the way we continued to put pressure on (Haren) and eventually knocked him out (in the fourth). We continued to pile on runs which was definitely something we needed after (Wednesday).''

So much for any carryover from the perfect game.

"I told you,'' Maddon said, "I really don't believe in that stuff.''

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

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