ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - The Los Angeles Angels sent four All-Star starters to the mound in their series with the Tampa Bay Rays, and not one of them could get a victory.
Instead, they all were outpitched badly by a staff that leads the AL in ERA, strikeouts and opponents' batting average.
Zack Greinke gave up six runs, seven hits and four walks over six innings in an 8-3 loss to Matt Moore on Sunday, completing the Rays' first four-game sweep of the Angels.
The Angels acquired the 2009 AL Cy Young winner from Milwaukee for three prospects on July 27, and he is 1-2 with a 6.19 ERA in five starts with them.
Greinke (1-2) has allowed at least four earned runs in four consecutive starts for the first time in his nine-year career. The 28-year-old right-hander also dropped a 2-0 decision to the Rays on July 29 in his Angels debut, ending his streak of 19 consecutive winning decisions in home games.
``Tampa had grit,' Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said. ``That's a good ballclub over there, and their pitching staff is even better. They've probably got one of the best teams in the league, and they did what they had to do. They came in here and took four from us, which is tough to do with the ballclub we have. But the way we're playing right now, it's not hard.'
Angels starting pitchers were 2-6 with a 7.57 ERA and 13 home runs allowed during their 10-game homestand, forcing an injury-depleted bullpen to eat up 35 1-3 innings. In this series, Greinke, C.J. Wilson, Dan Haren and ace Jered Weaver combined to give up 27 earned runs and six homers in 17 1-3 innings.
``I have all the respect in the world for them and their pitchers, but they had to face David Price, James Shields, Alex Cobb and Matt Moore - and they didn't even get a chance to see Jeremy Hellickson,' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ``I mean, they're good and they're formidable, but you have to beat good teams and good pitching to go to the promised land. We've done it in the past and we did it for days here. So I'm really pleased and happy with our group of pitchers.'
Moore (10-7) shrugged off home runs by Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to win his fourth straight decision. Ryan Roberts hit a two-run homer and the Rays also got two RBIs each from Carlos Pena and Matt Joyce.
Tampa Bay outscored the Angels 37-14 during the series after losing at Seattle on a perfect game by Felix Hernandez last Wednesday. The Rays set a franchise record for runs in a four-game series, two more than they had in August 2007 against Oakland.
The Angels, slipped a season-worst nine games out of first place in the AL West after their 13th loss in 18 games.
``Things have been going the other team's way lately, and the results have not been good, but we're just going to keep fighting,' Hunter said. ``I'm disappointed in the way we're playing, but we do have heart. We're going to play the game the right way and let things take its course. I've seen miracles happen. I'm just waiting for that miracle.'
The Rays grabbed a 4-0 lead in the second inning when Greinke hit No. 9 hitter Elliot Johnson on the leg with the bases loaded on his first pitch, then forced in another run with a two-out walk to B.J. Upton before Joyce capped the rally with a two-run single.
Moore had gone eight starts and 56 2-3 innings without allowing a home run until Trout led off the fourth with his 24th. But Roberts responded in the fifth with a drive into the left-field bullpen to extend Tampa Bay's lead to 6-1.
Moore gave up two-out singles to Erick Aybar and Vernon Wells in the fifth and appeared to be out of the jam when Bobby Wilson hit a foul pop. Catcher Jose Molina camped under it about 10 feet to the right of the plate, but first baseman Pena collided with him and elbowed him in the head as the ball popped loose, and Pena was charged with the Rays' only error of the series. Molina was checked out by a trainer and allowed to continue.
Moore walked Wilson on the next pitch, loading the bases, but retired Trout on a fly ball.
Pujols hit his 28th homer and 473rd of his career in the sixth, putting him two away from tying Stan Musial and Willie Stargell for 28th place.
NOTES: The Angels activated RHP Jordan Walden from the disabled list after he missed 32 games with a biceps strain. He faced four batters in the eighth and struck out three. ... LHP Hisanori Takahashi was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake, leaving Downs as the only lefty in the Angels' bullpen. Downs came off the DL Saturday after missing 20 games because of a shoulder strain.
The Associated Press News Service
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