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Cron's clutch homer lifts Angels over Rays
By Bill Chastain and Maria Guardado
ANAHEIM -- C.J. Cron blasted a pinch-hit, two-run home run off Adam Kolarek to snap an eighth-inning tie and lift the Angels to a 4-3 win over the Rays in Sunday's series finale at Angel Stadium.
In his first at-bat after the All-Star break, Cron crushed a first-pitch sinker to right field for his third homer of the season, breaking a 2-2 deadlock and putting the Angels ahead, 4-2. It was an encouraging sign for Cron, who has struggled to find his swing this season and has received scant playing time since being recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake.
"It's been a little bit since I've had an at-bat, and I didn't want to give him a pitch there," Cron said. "I wanted to be aggressive, because that's the kind of hitter I am. Fortunately it was a good pitch to hit, and I put a good swing on it."
"I feel just as confident facing righties as I do lefties," Kolarek said. "My plan of attack was to just trust my sinker and to try and get the ground ball there. Unfortunately, that one was just a little bit up. Good hitters take advantage of any little mistake in the zone."
Steven Souza Jr.'s RBI single pulled the Rays within one in the ninth, but Bud Norris escaped a bases-loaded jam by coaxing a game-ending double play from Tim Beckham to preserve the Angels' win and deny Tampa Bay a three-game sweep in Anaheim.
Angels right-hander Parker Bridwell, who was recalled from Salt Lake prior to Sunday's game, kept the Rays scoreless through six innings before surrendering a game-tying, two-run homer to Logan Morrison in the seventh. Bridwell, who lowered his ERA to 3.18 this season, departed after allowing two runs on six hits while walking one and striking out a career-high eight over 6 1/3 innings.
"We couldn't figure out their pitcher," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "It's funny, we saw him take the mound and he looked like a young Jered Weaver. Real thin, and you could tell he had some deception. We couldn't quite figure him out until LoMo came up with the big two-run homer to tie it."
Chris Archer pitched six solid innings for the Rays, yielding two runs on five hits while walking five and striking out nine. The Halos put 10 men on base against Archer, but the 28-year-old right-hander managed to minimize the damage, allowing only an RBI single to Albert Pujols in the fifth and a safety squeeze by Martin Maldonado that scored Andrelton Simmons in the sixth.
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LoMo ties it: Morrison erased the Rays' two-run deficit in the seventh by crushing his 26th home run of the season and his second in two days. After Evan Longoria led off the inning with a single, Morrison launched a 2-0 fastball from Bridwell to right-center field, tying the game at 2. The blast had an exit velocity of 109 mph and traveled a projected 429 feet, according to Statcast™.
"It was a two-seam, and it cut a little bit," Bridwell said. "Started on the outside of the plate, where I wanted it, but obviously when it cut, it went right over the plate."
Rays threaten in the ninth: The Angels summoned Norris to protect their 4-2 lead in the ninth, but Norris fell into trouble, surrendering a one-out double to Longoria and back-to-back singles to Morrison and Souza, which trimmed the Halos' lead to 4-3. Brad Miller then walked to load the bases, but Norris induced a 6-4-3 double play from Beckham to end the game. Simmons, who initiated the double play, celebrated the victory by punting his glove on the field.
"I was really pumped to get the double play because it was iffy," Simmons said. "Coming in to get the ball, I was like, 'I don't know, should I just try to get the out at home and keep the lead, or take a chance?' And it worked out perfect. I was pumped."
"You like to find a way to win this game today, but we didn't. We move on. We continue to play really good baseball in Oakland." -- Cash, on taking two out of three in Anaheim
"I just came in from the inning before that and drank a whole bottle of water, and I went back out and I was waterlogged. So, kind of nasty. I kind of felt like I had to burp, and it wasn't a burp." -- Bridwell on throwing up water in the second inning of his outing
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Pujols' RBI single in the fifth snapped the Angels' 0-for-20 stretch with runners in scoring position. Situational hitting still continues to be an issue for the Halos, who finished 1-for-9 with RISP on Sunday.
Following the game, the Rays designated right-hander Jumbo Diaz for assignment. Right-hander Andrew Kittredge was selected from Triple-A Durham and he will join the team in Oakland.
The Rays challenged in the second after Souza singled to lead off the inning and was called out at second trying to stretch the hit into a double. After a review, the call on the field was confirmed.
In the seventh, Kole Calhoun was thrown out at second by Adeiny Hechavarria while trying to stretch a double into a single. The Angels challenged that Beckham had tagged Calhoun before he touched the base, but umpires confirmed the call after a replay review.
WHAT'S NEXT Rays:Jake Odorizzi (5-4, 4.63) gets the nod when the Rays begin a three-game series against the Athletics Monday night in a 10:05 p.m. ET contest at the Oakland Coliseum. Odorizzi has served up 20 home run balls this season, and he's allowed one in 21 of his last 22 starts dating back to Aug. 16.
Angels: The Angels will enjoy an off-day on Monday before kicking off a two-game Interleague series against the Nationals on Tuesday at 7:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Right-hander Jesse Chavez (5-10, 4.99 ERA) will start the opener and make his first outing of the second half.