ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Shohei Ohtani worked five scoreless innings for the first time in three years, but it wasn’t enough for the Los Angeles Angels to snap out of their slump.
Brandon Lowe’s three-run homer in the seventh inning allowed the Tampa Bay Rays to rally for a 3-1 victory Wednesday night. Tampa Bay has won four straight and go for its first four-game sweep at Angel Stadium since 2012 on Thursday.
Lowe went deep to center off Junior Guerra (2-1) in the seventh after Brett Phillips led off the inning with a walk and Willy Adames flared a single to left.
“It was good to hit the ball that solid and see it leave the yard. It was able to give us a little bit of breathing room,” said Lowe, who is batting only .194, but is 9 for 33 with two home runs in his last nine games.
The Rays’ rally dampened what had been a solid outing for Ohtani, who didn’t allow a run through five innings for the first time in his last 10 starts, dating back to 2018. The right-hander went five-plus innings, with the only hit against him being Phillips’ single in the second.
Ohtani retired the side only once as he walked six and struck out seven. It is the second time this season he has had a pitching line where he allowed only one hit, walked six or more and whiffed seven or more.
According to Sportradar, there have been only three times when a starting pitcher has gone five innings or fewer and allowed no runs on one hit with at least six walks and seven strikeouts. Ohtani has two of them — including his April 20 outing against Texas — and Bill Bailey of the 1914 Baltimore Terrapins has the other.
Ohtani got to the sixth inning, but back-to-back walks ended his night at 84 pitches with 47 strikes.
“I thought he started coming out of his delivery. At that point, you are starting to manufacture stuff as opposed to letting hit happen,” manager Joe Maddon said. “There is nothing to lament though, I thought he was outstanding. This was a great one to build off of. He kept getting better as the game went along and maybe hit a wall at the end.”
Ohtani hit 100 on a fastball in the fourth inning, marking the first time had hit triple digits on the radar gun since his first start on April 4 against the Chicago White Sox. The right-hander has a 2.41 earned run average with 30 strikeouts and an opposing batting average of .113 in four starts, but the 19 walks are tied for third among starters in the majors.
“I feel like the balls I’m throwing are pretty good, it is just a control matter,” Ohtani said through a translator. “I wanted to go at least seven innings but the walks hurt that. I need to get my walks down which will help me and the team.”
Ryan Yarbrough (2-3) allowed one run on five hits in four-plus innings for the Rays, who have won four straight. Jeffrey Springs retired the final four Angels’ batters to earn his second save.
The Angels have dropped four straight and 10 of their last 14.
Los Angeles’ only run game in the third when Jose Rojas led off with a double down the right-field line, advanced to third on David Fletcher’s bunt single and then scored three batters later when Yarbrough walked Jared Walsh with the bases loaded.
Tampa Bay’s Willy Adames ended an Angels’ threat in the second when he made a diving play deep in the hole on a sharp grounder, got up and made a three-hop throw to get Kurt Suzuki out at first.
“As much as anything our defense won the game for us tonight. It bought the offense some time to come up with the big hit from Brandon,” manager Kevin Cash said.
The Rays opted to go with a bullpen game for the fifth time this season. Andrew Kittredge got his second start of the season and worked two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and a walk. They are 3-2 this season when using an opener.
Rays: P Diego Castillo was placed on the injured list, retroactive to Tuesday, due to right groin tightness. Cash was hopeful that the right-hander could be activated after 10 days. The Rays filled the spot by activating right-hander Pete Fairbanks (right rotator cuff strain). … 1B Randy Arozarena — who is in a 1 for 17 slump — got the night off.
Angels: 3B Anthony Rendon was placed on the injured list after fouling a ball of his left knee on Monday. … OF Justin Upton and C Max Stassi were not in the lineup. Upton bruised his right knee during Tuesday’s game and Stassi was still feeling the effects from falling into a railing near Tampa Bay’s dugout while trying to catch a foul ball. … P Félix Peña (right hamstring strain) is ready to come off the injured list but Maddon said there isn’t a spot to put him in the bullpen at the moment.
Los Angeles’ Andrew Heaney (1-2, 5.25 ERA) has 30 strikeouts in his last four starts, but the left-hander is 0-3 in four career starts against the Rays. RHP Collin McHugh (0-1, 10.13 ERA) will open for Tampa Bay.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports