ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Dan Haren was back on the mound and Vernon Wells returned to the lineup. Neither helped the slumping Los Angeles Angels, who dropped their season-high fourth in a row.
Things started promisingly enough when the Angels got three hits in the first inning, but they failed to score and went on to a 4-1 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.
``I don't know if it's a matter of trying to do too much at times, but it's frustrating being a part of an offense that's struggling to score runs,' said Vernon Wells, who returned to the Angels' lineup after missing 26 games with a strained right groin.
Wells was hitless in three at_bats with a strikeout. The Angels have scored three runs or less in 18 of their last 31 games, including each of the last seven.
``It's just a matter of relaxing and trying not to force the issue, just let some things come to us,' Wells said. ``Even though it's frustrating, guys are battling. You've got to battle your way through periods like this and get back to where we were.'
The Angels have scored just one run in losing the first two games of the series against the Rays.
Haren (5-4) gave up eight hits and three runs in seven innings. The right-hander struck out six and walked one after being pushed back three days in the rotation because of lower back tightness last week.
``Nothing ever hurt and I felt real good as the game went along,' he said. ``We haven't swung the bats that great lately, so you never want to put the team in a hole early. But I did and we were never able to dig out. There's a lot of pressure on the starting pitching right now, but hopefully, things will even itself out. We're too good of a ballclub to be playing like that.'
The Angels' run came on Torii Hunter's RBI single with two outs in the sixth. Hunter was 2 for 3 a night after snapping an 0-for-18 skid. Rookie Mark Trumbo went 1 for 3, extending his career-high hitting streak to nine games.
``It's easy to sit here and say, 'Well, we had only one run and didn't have a good offensive night,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ``But early in the game, we hit some bullets with not much to show for it. Sure, there's frustration on the offensive side, but Howie (Kendrick) and Torii and a number of guys squared some balls up. So there's some positives moving forward.'
The Rays won the series opener 5-1 a night earlier, giving them back-to-back victories for the first time since May 11-13, when they won three in a row.
Rookie Alex Cobb (1-0) allowed seven hits and one run in his third major league start and first on the road. The right-hander struck out three and walked none. He had a no-decision against the Angels on May 1 in Florida.
Kyle Farnsworth retired the side in the ninth to earn his 12th save in 13 chances.
John Jaso extended Tampa Bay's lead to 4-1 with a two-out single off Rich Thompson in the eighth inning.
B.J. Upton's homer on the first pitch from Haren with two outs in the third landed in the Angels' bullpen in left field, making it 2-0. Upton didn't play Monday because of the stomach flu that has swept through the team's clubhouse.
Johnny Damon's RBI double with two outs in the fourth made it 3-0. Damon reached base safely in his 33rd consecutive game, extending his career high with the longest active streak in the majors.
Damon opened the game with a triple and scored on Ben Zobrist's groundout. Damon was 3 for 5 with two doubles and the triple.
Notes: Rays 3B Evan Longoria missed his second straight game because of stomach flu. ... Hunter threw out Damon, who tried to score from second base on a single by Zobrist in the fourth, prompting an animated argument by Rays manager Joe Maddon. ... The Rays improved to 5-9 against AL West opponents. ... Angels INF Alexi Amarista was sent down to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room on the roster for Wells.
The Associated Press News Service
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