ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Their winning streak over, the Los
Angeles Angels still go to Oakland with a nice cushion over the
Athletics in the AL West.
Tampa Bay stopped the Angels' win string at eight with an 8-4
victory Sunday, when Jorge Cantu and Aubrey Huff homered on
consecutive pitches from Los Angeles ace Bartolo Colon. Mark
Hendrickson pitched eight solid innings to win his seventh
Having wrapped up their home schedule for the regular season,
the Angels open a crucial four-game series Monday night against the
second-place Athletics, who are four games back after losing 6-2 to
Texas on Sunday night.
"You like to have a lead going into a big series, but there's
no coasting, no getting help from other teams," Los Angeles
manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's not going to be any backing
into the playoffs, and that's the way it should be.
"The only way you can beat Oakland is with good pitching.
You've got to match them pitch by pitch."
Colon (20-8) gave up six runs and 10 hits in five innings, but
is scheduled to come back Thursday to start the final game against
the A's. He's eager to go again.
"The next one is a start I'm looking forward to, hopefully to
put this one behind me," Colon said through a translator.
Bothered recently by a sore back, Colon said it hurt only a
little in his outing against the Devil Rays, and he felt fine
Hendrickson (11-7) allowed four runs and eight hits in eight
innings. The former NBA forward struck out three and walked one
before giving way to Danys Baez.
"Hendrickson's had himself a real nice finish to this season,"
Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. "He hasn't been beaten in 11
starts, which is pretty impressive for a team that is under .500
like we are.
"He's a lot responsible for the way we've played. To me, he's
pitching with a lot more confidence. You can see it out there. But
that's what winning does for you. You get aggressive, you make
better pitches and you make better choices."
Hendrickson said Piniella provided him with some motivation
earlier in the year.
"It was kind of a wake-up call for me when Lou told the press
that if I didn't turn it around, they may find somebody else,"
Hendrickson said. "At that point, I kind of re-evaluated my
approach and really looked hard into what I can do better and asked
myself if I was doing everything I needed to do off the field to
prepare for my starts.
"Hopefully, I can keep this going. I've got one more start to
finish up strong, and that's where my focus is."
After Cantu hit a two-run shot to center with two outs in the
third inning, Huff sent a high drive to right for a 4-1 lead. Jonny
Gomes added a solo shot off Colon in the fifth.
Colon, the AL's first 20-game winner this season and the first
Angels pitcher to reach the plateau since Nolan Ryan in 1974, lost
to Tampa Bay for the first time in nine career decisions.
Cantu's home run was his 28th, and it extended his club record
for RBI in a season to 114. Huff and Gomes have 21 homers apiece.
The victory gave the Devil Rays a 37-30 record since the
All-Star break and assured them of a winning record in the second
half for the first time in their eight-year history.
Asked about the improved play, Piniella, who is expected to
leave the team after this season, said: "It's a credit to these
kids. For one, we've been able to keep our rotation intact. We've
had five starters who really haven't had any injuries. I think
we've made only two changes to our team since the All-Star break.
We've used everybody.
"And, to their credit, these kids have performed. I commend
them, I really do."
Gomes had three hits, including a triple, and Julio Lugo had a
pair of doubles, scored twice and drove in another run.
The crowd of 41,733 in their final home game of the regular
season gave the Angels a total of 3,404,686, an increase of 29,009
over their previous record set last year. ... The Devil Rays took
five of nine against the Angels, the first time they've won the