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Rays blow late lead, then beat Angels in 10 innings

Vidal Brujan delivers the go-ahead run after Andrew Kittredge blows an eighth-inning lead.
The Rays' Vidal Brujan doubles during the 10th inning of Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif.
The Rays' Vidal Brujan doubles during the 10th inning of Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif. [ ASHLEY LANDIS | AP ]
Published May 12|Updated May 12

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Things hadn’t been going well for the Rays.

They blew a late lead and got walked off in extra innings Sunday in Seattle, got blown out Monday by the Angels, then no-hit on Tuesday. Wednesday, with a tough matchup against Shohei Ohtani and then another bullpen misstep (as they lost a two-run advantage in the eighth), wasn’t looking any better.

They needed something, and they got it from a somewhat unlikely source. Rookie Vidal Brujan sparked a 10th-inning rally, leading the Rays to a much-welcomed 4-2 win over the Angels.

The victory snapped a three-game losing streak and sent the Rays home on a happy overnight flight after a 10-game, three-city West Coast trip in which they went 7-3 to improve to 19-13.

“We started off great and lost a tough one there in Seattle, and the first two games here, these guys whooped our butts. …” Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier said. “We hit a roadblock here the first two games and didn’t have anything really going our way. Get no-hit (Tuesday) night, and you learn a lot about your team coming to the park on days like (Wednesday): What are we about?

“And I would say just whatever we have to do to find a way to win, that’s what it’s all about. And (Wednesday), we found a way. Great road trip. Head back home with our heads held high.”

Or, as manager Kevin Cash said more succinctly: “7-3 is a lot better than 6-4, no doubt, and avoiding four consecutive losses helps a lot.”

Shane McClanahan gave the Rays another strong start, outdueling Ohtani as both pitchers benefited from the late-afternoon shadows. McClanahan allowed just three hits over seven innings while matching his career high with 11 strikeouts, set two starts ago.

Kiermaier gave the Rays an early lead with a second-inning homer off Ohtani.

“I was thinking that was all we were gonna need. Just with how Shane was, I mean, wow, lights out,” Kiermaier said. “Definitely one I’ll tell my grandkids about one day, hitting it off Ohtani. What a player. Felt really good.”

The Rays then played small ball — with an actual sacrifice bunt called by Cash — to add a run in the eighth. Taylor Walls singled, stole second, was bunted to third, and scored on an infield out.

But reliever Andrew Kittredge, as on Sunday in Seattle, couldn’t hold the lead, allowing a leadoff single in the eighth to Jack Mayfield, then — after a fielder’s choice grounder — a two-run, pinch-hit homer to Taylor Ward.

“It’s a gut punch, but at the same time you’ve got a lot of confidence in this clubhouse, of the guys in here that they’ll respond,” Cash said. “And they certainly did.”

Especially Brujan. In two previous stints with the Rays, he hadn’t really shown much of his all-around skill and game-changing speed. Called up Tuesday when outfielder Manuel Margot was limited by a hamstring issue, Brujan put it all on display.

Leading off the 10th against former Rays lefty Aaron Loup, Brujan lashed the first pitch for a double down the left field line that scored Kiermaier, who started the inning as the runner on second. After an infield out, Brujan stole third, then scored when pinch-hitter Harold Ramirez delivered a single to left.

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“You can definitely tell (Brujan) is waiting for an opportunity and trying to make a name for himself and get more opportunity up here, and hits like that will do it,” Kiermaier said. “But he’s great. He’s a heck of a player. We all know he can play, and hopefully that gets his confidence up a little bit.”

Cash said it should.

“We really think highly of him,” Cash said. “He’s such a talented, versatile player that can do so many things with the bat, with the glove, and definitely on the bases, and we kind of saw all of it (Wednesday).”

Brujan, 24, said he appreciated the opportunity and showed that he could come through in a key situation. Even better, he made a case for getting to stay with the Rays.

“Yeah,” he said via team interpreter Manny Navarro, “that’s exactly what I want.”

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