ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Pinch hitter C.J. Cron connected for a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth inning and the Los Angeles Angels escaped a jam in the ninth to hold off the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 on Sunday.
Trailing 4-2, the Rays scored once in the ninth and loaded the bases with one out. Bud Norris got Tim Beckham to ground into a double play for his 14th save, ending the Rays’ four-game winning streak.
It was 2-all when Cron swung at the first pitch he saw from Adam Kolarek and sent it into the right field seats. Kolarek entered after Andrelton Simmons singled with one out off Jumbo Diaz (1-4).
Cron hit the Angels’ first pinch-homer since Jefry Marte on June 9, 2016.
David Hernandez (1-0) got rewarded for one inning of scoreless relief as the Angels avoided a three-game sweep.
Evan Longoria doubled off Norris with one out in the ninth and Logan Morrison singled. Steven Souza Jr. hit an RBI single and a walk loaded the bases for Beckham.
Albert Pujols put the Angels ahead in the fifth with an RBI single. Martin Maldonado squeezed home another run in the sixth, with Simmons scoring just ahead of catcher Jesus Sucre’s tag.
Morrison hit his 26th homer, a two-run drive off Parker Bridwell that tied it in the seventh. Bridwell struck out eight and allowed six hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Chris Archer gave up two runs on five hits with nine strikeouts in six innings. The Rays missed a chance to complete their first road series sweep since June 2016.
Rays: C Wilson Ramos could return to action Monday after missing the last two games with a tweaked hamstring.
Angels: 2B Danny Espinosa was designated for assignment after hitting .162 in 77 games this season. Nick Franklin got the start at 2B against the Rays, going 1 for 3 with a walk, and is expected to platoon with Cliff Pennington going forward.
Rays: RHP Jake Odorizzi (5-4, 4.63 ERA) spent the All-Star break trying to address his inconsistent mechanics and will get to test those adjustments when the Rays open a three-game series at Oakland on Monday.
Angels: RHP Jesse Chavez (5-10, 4.99) will try to break a three-game losing streak when the Angels open a two-game series against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday. Chavez has won just one of his last nine starts and hasn’t picked up a victory at home since May 15.