ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Rays bullpen failed them again in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Angels, rookie left-hander Adam Kolarek allowing a two-run pinch-hit homer to C.J. Cron in the eighth inning.
With starter Chris Archer working only six innings, the Rays needed their bullpen to cover the final three, and with no margin as they scored twice in the top of the seventh to tie it 2-2.
Tommy Hunter worked the seventh, throwing only eight pitches. With Brad Boxberger unavailable after working Friday and Saturday, manager Kevin Cash turned to Jumbo Diaz to start the eighth against the lower half of the order.
Diaz got one out, then allowed a single to Andrelton Simmons.
Cash next summoned his lone lefty, Kolarek, to face lefty swinging Luis Valbuena. The Angels countered with righty-swinging Cron, and he laced Kolarek's first pitch over the rightfield fence.
The Rays (49-44) rallied in the ninth with one-out singles by Evan Longoria, Logan Morrison and Steven Souza Jr. to cut the lead to 4-3 but got no closer as Tim Beckhham grounded into a game-ending double play.
The Rays felt good about their chances for a series sweep in sending All-Star Archer to the mound, but it seemed obvious from the start he didn't have the elite stuff he talks of.
Allowing five walks and five hits put traffic on the bases in five of his six innings, though Archer did well to limit the damage to two runs, especially since both scored on plays at the plate where a runner got by catcher Jesus Sucre's tag.
Add in the nine strikeouts, and Archer was able to work only six innings, throwing 107 pitches, 63 for strikes.
The Angels got their first run in the fifth, when Archer walked ex-mate Nick Franklin, the No. 9 hitter, and then Cameron Maybin. Archer did well to strike out Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout (on a 97 mph fastball) but allowed a single to Albert Pujols, Franklin sliding by Sucre's tag and swiping his left hand across the plate.
The Angels added on in the sixth when Nelson Simmons led off with a double, went to third on a sac fly and scored on a squeeze bunt by Martin Maldonado, sliding under Sucre's tag.
The Rays tied it with much less circumstance in the seventh. Longoria, continuing to enjoy his SoCal homecoming, singled and then Morrison crushed a 2-and-0 Parker Bridwell pitch an estimated 429 feet for a home run, then tossed his bat probably another 20 to highlight it.
The Rays headed north after the game, opening a three-game series on Monday night against the A's in Oakland, with Jake Odorizzi on the mound.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow @ TBTimes_Rays.