ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Some daring baserunning by John Jaso and a perfectly executed bunt by Reid Brignac in the 10th inning helped Tampa Bay overcome an ill-fated pitch by Cesar Ramos that blew a three-run lead for James Shields.
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Brignac got the Rays' offense started with his first homer of the season and bunted home the deciding run in a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night, completing their first-ever three-game sweep in Anaheim.Rays manager Joe Maddon used two pinch-hitters to start the winning rally against Fernando Rodney (2-3). Jaso walked and the flu-ridden Evan Longoria reached on an infield hit past the mound while batting for Kelly Shoppach. Jaso took off for third base and made it for his first steal of the season, and scored on Brignac's bunt up the first base line."Conger is always on his toes back there, so he's a tough guy to catch off-guard," Jaso said of Angels rookie catcher Hank Conger. "I guess I just kind of saw an opening in my head."It was one of those plays where it looked great tonight. But if I was out, I would have looked really really dumb. Then Reid laid down that nice bunt that allowed me to score, and now we're going on that plane happy. The aggressive move paid off, basically."Juan Cruz (3-0) pitched a perfect ninth to get the victory and Kyle Farnsworth got three outs for his 13th save in 14 attempts.Bobby Abreu, who tied the score with a three-run double in the eighth off Ramos, made a bid for a two-run walkoff homer in the 10th. But center fielder B.J. Upton caught the ball against the fence for the second out of the inning."I didn't think it would carry that far," Upton said. "We were in a `no-doubles' situation out there. I kind of felt the warning track but I didn't know exactly where the wall was. So I just had to jump a little bit for it and came down against the wall."The Rays swept a three-game series on the road for the third time this season. The other two were against the Twins and Orioles, who are last in their respective divisions. Only one other time in their 14-year history have they swept a three-game set in the state of California -- June 2004 at San Diego.Shields took a six-hit shutout into the eighth, departing after 101 pitches with the bases loaded and none out. Abreu drove Ramos' second pitch to right field, clearing the bases and taking Angels starter Jered Weaver off the hook."I don't think I was getting tired," said Shields, was charged with three runs and seven hits in seven-plus innings and struck out eight. "They weren't swinging at the off-speed stuff like I wanted them to, and they had some good at-bats that last inning. But for the most part, I felt like I pitched pretty well and kept us in the game. So I'll take that every five days."The Angels lost their fifth straight game, equaling their longest skid this season. They did not take batting practice on the field before the game, and manager Mike Scioscia shuffled his lineup in an attempt to get the team's offense out of its collective malaise. Hunter batted second, Alberto Callaspo third and Abreu cleanup -- the first time this season that each of them have started a game in those slots."We lost four games in a row and our offense has been struggling a little bit, so we shook up the lineup a little bit," Hunter said. "I mean, me hitting second is out of the ordinary, but maybe something different will work. And if it does, we'll stick with it and ride it out."This was the eighth straight game in which the Halos failed to score more than three runs going back to May 30, when they rallied from a five-run deficit at Kansas City to win 10-8.Weaver gave up three runs and six hits in 7 2/3 innings, walked one and struck out five. The right-hander is remained 1-4 in eight starts after winning his first six of the season. He slammed his glove against the bench after Ben Zobrist chased him with an RBI triple on his 121st pitch to give the Rays a 3-0 lead.Weaver, who had allowed only two home runs over his previous nine starts, threw a 1-1 pitch to Brignac that ended up in the first row of the lower seats in the right field corner with two out in the third.It was the 10th homer in 524 career at-bats to that point for the Rays' No. 9 hitter, and his first since Sept. 18 against the Angels' Joel Pineiro. Brignac came in with only one extra-base hit in 118 at-bats this season -- a double on May 12 at Cleveland.Justin Ruggiano drove in the Rays' second run with a two-out RBI double in the seventh. He finished the series 5 for 12 with a homer and four RBIs.
Just 2 1/2 weeks after attending the graduation of his son Matthew from Notre Dame, Scioscia was beaming with pride after the Halos tabbed the 21-year-old C/1B in the 45th round (1,365th pick) of the Major League Baseball draft. Scioscia was the 19th overall pick in the 1976 draft, and ended up catching more games than anyone in that franchise's history. ... Weaver is 3 2/3 innings shy of the 1,000 mark for his career. ... Longoria, who grew up about 20 miles north of Angel Stadium in Downey, did not start in any of the three games in this series because of stomach flu that has caused him to lose seven pounds. His .426 career average at the Big A is his highest at any AL ballpark (20 for 47).