Struggling Rays Match Worst 22-Game Stretch in Club History

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays can’t get to the All-Star break fast enough.

The team lost for the 19th time in 22 games on Thursday, falling 5-1 to the Los Angeles Angels, who had dropped 12 of 14 before taking three of four from the Rays and leaving town with their longest winning streak in nearly two months.

“We’re not going to look back. I think we’ve been very honest and upfront that we are frustrated,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We’re not pleased with the way things are going. The one way you can get out of that is start winning some ballgames.”

Albert Pujols and C.J. Cron drove in runs to back left-hander Hector Santiago (6-4), who limited the sputtering Rays to three singles over seven scoreless innings.

Pujols snapped a scoreless tie with a sixth-inning single off rookie Blake Snell (1-4). Cron followed with a RBI grounder that Tampa Bay, which sank a season-worst 17 games under .500, was unable to turn into an inning-ending double play.

The last-place Angels added two more runs in the eighth on Cron’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly and a perfectly executed double steal that saw Pujols swipe second base while Mike Trout sprinted home without drawing a throw to make it 4-0.

The Rays, who went 3-8 on the longest homestand of the season, have matched the worst 22-game stretch in franchise history. It’s the worst 22-game stretch in the major leagues this season, and the worst for an AL club since Texas went through a 3-19 stretch two years ago.

“At times it can have a snowball effect a little bit,” Cash said. “Every day is a new game, it’s a different game, but we’ve got to a do a better job of not carrying things over one day to the next. To be honest, I think for the most part we’ve done that. We’re just continuing to come up short.”

Brad Miller’s 13th homer, coming on reliever Joe Smith’s first pitch, accounted for Tampa Bay’s only run.

Snell, who has taken the loss in four of his six career starts, allowed two runs and four hits over six innings. The 23-year-old left-hander walked two and struck out seven.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Angels: RHP Cory Rasmus is expected to miss a minimum of six more weeks after surgery on Thursday to repair a right groin injury. … C Geovany Soto, out since May 18 with a right lateral meniscus injury, might be activated this weekend.

Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) felt fine a day after his first rehab start Wednesday night for Class A Charlotte and will make his next appearance Monday. … C Curt Casali, who left Wednesday’s game with a bruise on the left side of his head after being struck by a back swing, sat out the series finale and is day to day. … INF Steve Pearce (strained right hamstring) is scheduled to start on-field batting practice Friday.

RARE COMBO

Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer (4-11, 127 strikeouts) and Drew Smyly (2-10, 108) are the second pair of teammates in major league history to lose 10 or more games while fanning at least 100 batters before the All-Star break. Clay Kirby (6-11, 126) and Steve Arlin (8-11, 115) did it for the San Diego Padres in 1972.

UP NEXT

Angels: Continue a 10-game East Coast road trip leading into the All-Star break, with RHP Matt Shoemaker (3-9, 4.40 ERA) making his second start of the season against Baltimore. He pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out a career-high 12 in his start against the Orioles at Angel Stadium on May 21.

Rays: Archer, who lost eight straight decisions against the Red Sox, starts the opener of a weekend series in Boston. The right-hander, who’s gone from an All-Star a year ago to leading the majors in losses this season, is the first pitcher since Phil Niekro (Braves) in 1977 to have as many as 11 losses and 127 strikeouts at the All-Star break. The other times that happened occurred in 1973, when Nolan Ryan (Angels), Gaylord Perry (Indians) and Wilbur Wood (White Sox) all did it.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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