Rays are reaching new heights
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Carl Crawford has played more games for Tampa Bay than any player in team history, so it was fitting that he delivered the blow that lifted the Rays into uncharted territory.
The surging Rays climbed five games over .500 for the first time in the club's 11 seasons, with Crawford hitting a three-run home run, stealing two bases, and scoring twice yesterday to pace an 8-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels, giving Tampa Bay a three-game sweep and four straight wins overall.
"We feel like we're going to win every game right now," said Crawford, a two-time All-Star, after Tampa Bay stopped Ervin Santana from becoming the American League's first seven-game winner. "We know that's not possible, but we have the confidence to feel that way."
Santana departed with a 5-4 lead with one on and two outs in the sixth inning, but the game quickly shifted when Justin Speier (0-3) entered and gave up a double to Akinori Iwamura and Crawford's third homer of the year.
B.J. Upton doubled for the third consecutive hit off the Angels reliever. He took third base on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch by Speier, who struggled for the second time in three days against the Rays.
Evan Longoria's two-run, ninth-inning homer off Speier gave Tampa Bay a 2-0 win in the series opener Friday night. The Rays won by the same score Saturday, holding the Angels to a total of four hits in the two games.
The series sweep left Los Angeles with a four-game losing streak for the first time since April 2007. The Rays (21-16) are five games over .500 for the first time at any point in a season, and it's the latest they've ever been in second place in the AL East, 1 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.
Crawford went 3 for 5, raising his batting average to .289. He leads the AL in runs scored (30) and has 12 stolen bases, four in the last four games.
Although Santana remained unbeaten, Tampa Bay prevented an Angels starter from becoming the league's first seven-game winner for the second straight day. Joe Saunders lost for the first time in seven decisions Saturday.
J.P. Howell (2-0) pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Andy Sonnanstine to get the win. Troy Percival earned his ninth save.