ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- 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 homer, stealing two bases and scoring twice Sunday to pace an 8-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels."We feel like we're going to win every game right now," the two-time All-Star said after Tampa Bay stopped Ervin Santana from becoming the AL'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 runner 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 season.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."There's nothing they did that surprised us," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "They're a team that has a lot of positive things happening."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.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."C.C. still hasn't taken off yet, but the guy is pretty clutch," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He's come up with some big hits for us already in crucial moments, and obviously [the homer] did turn the tide for us."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 on Saturday.J.P. Howell (2-0) pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Andy Sonnanstine to get the victory. Troy Percival worked the ninth for his ninth save in 10 opportunities.Garret Anderson and Torii Hunter drove in two runs apiece for the Angels, who finally showed signs of life on offense. Slumping Vladimir Guerrero went 2-for-4 and drove in a run for just the fourth time in 23 games.Santana, coming off a four-hit shutout of Kansas City, allowed three runs on four hits in the first six batters Sunday. Floyd, Upton and Longoria had the RBIs for Tampa Bay, which also had been struggling at the plate the past week.The Angels snapped a streak of 20 consecutive scoreless innings with RBI singles by Guerrero, Anderson and Hunter in the third inning, however Santana quickly fell behind again.Upton and Carlos Pena singled to start the bottom of the third. Floyd, in his first action since coming off the 15-day disabled list, followed with his second run-scoring single to give Sonnanstine another lead the Tampa Bay starter couldn't hold.Anderson's RBI single and Hunter's run-scoring triple turned the Angels' 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 lead and ended Sonnanstine's afternoon. The Rays starter gave up eight hits, walked two and struck out three.Santana allowed five runs and eight hits -- both season highs -- in 5 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out seven, including the last batter he faced. But with the starter at 113 pitches, Scioscia turned to Speier."Put these two loses, Friday and today, on me. I just haven't made my pitches like I normally could," Speier said."I'll iron it out. Sometimes, getting into a funk, you try to figure too much out. Sometimes less is more. I'm just going to go out there, continue making pitches and get out of this thing."
Crawford finished 3-for-5, stole two bases and scored two runs. ... Speier has allowed five homers in 15 innings this season. ... Angels INF Howie Kendrick's strained left hamstring will be reevaluated on Monday. He went 3-for-3 in a rehab game with Class A Rancho Cucamonga last Tuesday, but experienced some tightness in the hamstring. ... Rays INF Ben Zobrist will have the pins removed from his broken left thumb on Monday and could be activated during this week's series against the New York Yankees.