Price struggles early as Rays lose to Angels
Collin Cowgill hit a three-run double, one of 11 hits the Angels got against the reigning AL Cy Young winner through his first 2 1-3 innings, and Williams ended a streak of eight straight losing decisions in a 6-2 victory over the Rays on Thursday night.
Price (8-7) was charged with six runs while striking out six. The three-time All-Star left-hander, who won a career-high 20 games last season, has lost consecutive starts for the first time since dropping three in a row from July 20-Aug. 2, 2011.
"He made some bad pitches at the wrong times," manager Joe Maddon said. "He was off with some of his off-speed stuff. He was just missing early. Then he really settled in and pitched extremely well after that."
The Angels built a 6-2 lead through the third, and everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit by then. Price didn't give up another hit after Kole Calhoun's RBI single in the third, retiring 14 of his final 15 batters.
"I got better as the game went along, but 11 hits and a walk through three innings is pretty rough," Price said. "It's frustrating when you go out there and don't perform well for your team."
The Angels opened the third with five consecutive hits, including a leadoff single by Mike Trout, who was picked off and then thrown out at second. Mark Trumbo and Luis Jimenez both doubled during the rally, and Josh Hamilton had an RBI single. Jimenez scored on a fielder's choice grounder by Grant Green.
"David Price is as tough of a left-handed pitcher as you're going to face, but our left-handed hitters hung in there," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We had great at-bats tonight, and David Price had to work for every out."
The Rays' ninth loss in 12 games, coupled with Boston's 9-8 win at New York, dropped Tampa Bay 6 1/2 games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox. Those teams will meet next week in a three-game series at Tropicana Field after the Rays complete their 10-game West Coast trip with three at Seattle.
Williams (6-10) allowed two runs and six hits over 6 1-3 innings, struck out seven and walked two as the Angels earned a split of the four-game series. The right-hander was winless in his previous 13 starts with a 6.58 ERA since winning at Baltimore on June 12. His eight straight defeats were the most by an Angels pitcher since 1993, when Scott Sanderson was 0-9 in his final 11 starts with the club before being put on waivers.
"I just wanted to put up zeros and keep the guys in the hunt for a win," Williams said. "I'm just going out here and doing my job, trying to do my best. Whatever happens happens, as long as at the end of the day and the end of the season I can look myself in the mirror and say: "I did OK. That's fine."
Los Angeles put runners at the corners in the first with none out, but Price escaped that jam unscathed. Trout was called out on strikes by C.B. Bucknor on back-to-back pitches that were under the knees, and Trumbo grounded into a double play.
"I made pitches to get out of the first inning, but I didn't in the second and third and they made me pay," Price said. "I've got to make better pitches earlier in the count."
The Angels loaded the bases with one out in the second, after third baseman Evan Longoria played Green's high chopper near the bag on the second hop and was too late to get the force on the sliding Hamilton.
"The ball was spinning," Longoria said, "so I took an extra second to make sure I caught the ball. I tried to stay in the baseline because I thought I would be able to just field it and step on the base. But he was hustling and he had enough room to kind of go straight in. It was just a weird play."
Cowgill then cleared the bases with a double to the gap in left-center on a 2-2 changeup, doubling his RBI total in his 29th game and 52nd at-bat with the Angels following the June 25 trade from the New York Mets.
The Rays got on the board in the third when James Loney hit a two-run double high off the 18-foot high wall in right-center with two out after David DeJesus and Ben Zobrist opened the inning with singles. Loney, who had back-to-back 90-RBI seasons with the Dodgers in 2008-09, raised his season total to 62 with his 200th career double.
"We get back to 3-2 and were feeling pretty good about it," Maddon said. "Then they put another three-spot up there and that kind of took the wind out of our sails, because we haven't just been very good offensively lately. So that made it a lot more difficult."
NOTES: Three-time Gold Glove 2B Bobby Knoop was inducted into the Angels' Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony, joining a select fraternity that includes 1960s keystone partner and ex-roommate Jim Fregosi - who caught Knoop's ceremonial first pitch. The other members are Nolan Ryan, Rod Carew, Brian Downing, Chuck Finley, Don Baylor, Bobby Grich, original owner Gene Autry, longtime conditioning coach Jimmie Reese, and the entire 2002 World Series championship club. ... Price gave up a career-high 12 hits over 4 1-3 innings against the Angels on April 29, 2011, in an 8-5 home loss ... Rays CF Desmond Jennings, who entered this series batting .490 when putting the first pitch in play - and .466 lifetime in those situations - took the first pitch in all 15 plate appearances against the Angels. ... Former Angels C Jose Molina has been behind the plate for each of Price's last 16 starts (7-5, 2.94 ERA). ... The Angels, who eclipsed last season's loss total of 73 on Wednesday, need to go no worse than 8-15 to avoid the team's first 90-loss finish in Scioscia's 14 seasons as manager.