ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Tampa Bay Rays may not be on a record-setting roll like the L.A. Dodgers and Houston Astros, but there is no lack of confidence in their clubhouse.
The Rays, six games over .500 for the first time since 2015, did everything well Saturday night in a 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels that held their position for an American League wild-card bid and moved them 2 1/2 games behind AL East leader Boston.
Alex Cobb continued his run of stout starts and Logan Morrison and Steven Souza Jr. continued the Rays’ home-run assault on the American League.
Cobb (8-6) allowed one run, six hits and three walks in 7 2/3 innings, his seventh straight start of six innings or more, a career high. He’s allowed only 36 hits in 49 1/3 innings over his last seven starts and two earned runs or fewer six times.
Morrison hit his 25th home run of the season in the third, a two-run shot, and Souza hit his career-high 18th in the eighth. The Rays have hit 136 home runs, third-most in the AL and fourth in the majors. They had 14 hits, including four by Corey Dickerson and three by Shane Peterson.
“They’re confident, and they should be,” manager Kevin Cash said. “This game isn’t easy, but when you play with confidence if makes it a little easier.”
Said Cobb: “We’re doing a lot of things right. I was worried about the All-Star break coming at a bad time, but after two games it shows that we haven’t lost any momentum.”
Cobb has been a big part of that momentum. His string of solid and long outings has taken some pressure off the bullpen and underscored the kind of pitcher he is when he isn’t battling injuries.
“I think I pitched to contact more tonight,” he said. “I looked up at the scoreboard a couple of times and saw the pitch count was low. I probably had fewer strikeouts but we have a great defense.”
“This game was probably more of a battle for Alex than he’s had recently,” Cash said. “But he still set the tone. He made big pitches when he had to.”
The Rays hit Angels starter JC Ramirez (8-8) early and often, with eight hits in the first four innings. The big hit was Morrison’s two-run home run to center in the third to make it a 3-0 game.
The home run snapped an 0-for-15 slump for Morrison and was only his third home run in his last 15 games. Dickerson’s four-hit night gave him a league-best 34th multi-hit games, and also snapped a 4-for-38 funk over his last 11 games.
The loss sent the reeling Angels four games under .500 for the first time since April 23. They are 2-6 in their last eight games and have scored 11 runs in their last six games, and 32 in their last 14. They are last in the AL in runs per game at 4.06.
First baseman Luis Valbuena drove in all three runs, with a solo home run in the seventh and a consolation two-run home run off Jumbo Diaz in the ninth. Mike Trout had a pair of singles in his second game back from the disabled after undergoing surgery on his left thumb, but also lost a fly ball in the twilight that led to a Rays run.
“Tonight we had a lot of good at-bats,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We hit a lot of balls on the screws but had nothing to show for it. We just have to turn the page.”
Ramirez went six innings but has allowed four runs or more in six of his last nine starts.
NOTES: Angels RHP Parker Bridwell will officially be recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake City on Sunday and start the series finale. He’s 3-1 with a 3.24 ERA in six appearances in 2017. … RHP Matt Shoemaker remains on the disabled list with a nerve condition in his right arm and received a cortisone shot that will keep him from throwing for at least a week. He made a rehab start earlier this week and left the game with pain. … Rays SS Tim Beckham was activated from the disabled list after the game and will start Sunday. He suffered an ankle sprain the first week of July but only missed five games. Infielder Taylor Featherstone was optioned to Triple-A Durham. … Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier, on the disabled list since early June after suffering a hairline fracture in his hip, plans to begin baseball activities when the Rays return home from their current road trip and hopes to be able to return to the field in early August.