By Michael Kolligian and Troy Provost-Heron
ST. PETERSBURG -- Third baseman Evan Longoria delivered a go-ahead home run in the third and the Rays bullpen preserved that lead by shutting down the Angels' lineup over the four final innings to take Game 2 of the series, 4-2, on Wednesday at Tropicana Field.
The Rays got on the board first with two runs in the second, but the Angels rallied to tie things back up in the top of the third after Erick Aybar and Mike Trout provided back-to-back RBI singles. Longoria quickly put the Rays back ahead when he sent the first pitch of the bottom half of the third over the fence in left field.
Asdrubal Cabrera tacked on an insurance run in the eighth with a two-out, ground-rule double that scored Steven Souza, who reached on a double the at-bat before.
"Nice bounce-back win," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "It's nice to get some early runs, especially against a guy like that [Jered Weaver] who's extremely difficult to square up, he mixes his pitches probably as good as anybody in baseball and kept us off balance.
"A lot of mis-hits, but Longo's home run and those runs before Longo's home run were big."
Erasmo Ramirez pitched five innings for the Rays, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out three, and then turned it over to the bullpen who closed out the final four frames while only allowing two hits. Weaver allowed four runs on eight hits in 7 2/3 innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Quick bounce back: The Rays were able to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning thanks to an RBI single by Kevin Kiermaier and a two-out fielder's choice by Joey Butler that resulted in Nick Franklin scoring from third, but the Angels knotted things right back up with a two-run top of the third. On the first pitch of the bottom half, though, Longoria put the Rays right back on top with a solo blast -- his sixth home run of the season -- to left field. Longoria had been held out of the lineup for three consecutive games thanks to a sore left wrist, but the third baseman showed no ill-effects Wednesday.
"Nothing usually hurts when you hit a home run," Longoria said. "It felt pretty good after that."
Rookie responds: Promising Angels' third base prospect Kyle Kubitza, who was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake earlier in the day to fill in for an ailing David Freese (hamstring), wasted little time making his presence felt, lining a third-inning Ramirez fastball to center for a base hit in his first Major League at-bat. Kubitza would add a single to right in the seventh to finish 2-for-3 on the night. More >
"He swung the bat OK, he got two hits. This guy has a chance to be a real good player," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia.
Shut it down: The Rays were only clinging to one-run lead, but on Wednesday their bullpen made that minor advantage look insurmountable. Starting their work in the sixth, the combination of Steve Geltz, Kevin Jepsen, Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee combined to allow just two hits. The only real threat came in the seventh after Jepsen allowed a two-out single to Kubitza and then walked Johnny Giavotella, but he forced Aybar to ground out to second to end the inning. Boxberger tossed a perfect eighth against the 2-3-4 hitters in the Angels lineup -- Trout, Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun -- and the McGee picked up his first save of the season.
"It lined up kind of how you'd like to draw it up," Cash said. "It doesn't always work out that way, but it did tonight ... If we have a chance to win, we are going to go to those guys."
Aybar stays hot: With a third-inning RBI single that plated C.J. Cron with the Angels' first run, Aybar has now hit safely in 25 of his last 28 games with a .321 batting average (42 for 131).
"Right now, I feel good. I'm seeing the ball well, picking up the spin, trying to go the other way. I'm very comfortable at the plate, in the leadoff spot, but wherever the manager puts me, I'll be happy," Aybar said.
With runners on first and second and one out in the first inning, David DeJesus hit a soft liner that Aybar snared and flipped to second baseman Johnny Giavotella for an apparent, inning-ending double play. Cash challenged umpire Mike Estabrook's ruling, arguing that Giavotella's foot was off the bag. After review, the call was overturned.
Angels:Garrett Richards (5-4, 4.14 ERA) will take the ball on Thursday when the Angels and Rays wrap up their three-game series at Tropicana Field at 4:10 pm PT. The 27-year-old right-hander is coming off his poorest start of the season, allowing six earned runs in an 8-2 loss at Yankee Stadium. Richards turned in a quality start against the Rays in his prior outing, allowing three earned runs in six innings in a 7-3 Angels' victory.
Rays:Alex Colome (3-2, 4.54 ERA) will make his fifth consecutive start against an AL West opponent, which will tie a club record set by Joe Kennedy back in 2003. In his four prior starts versus the West, the right-hander is 1-1 with a 3.22 ERA, but did take the loss on June 1 against the Angels when he allowed five runs -- off three home runs -- in six innings. He is 2-1 with a 4.22 ERA in four starts at Tropicana Field this season.