CM – Angels fail to beat Rays’ late home race in their 4th consecutive loss

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Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws to the plate during the first inning of Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill)

Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws to the plate during the first inning of Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill)

Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws to the plate during the first inning of Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill)

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Andrew Kittredge throws during the second inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday May 5, 2021 in Anaheim, California. (AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill)

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Andrew Kittredge throws during the second inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday May 5, 2021 in Anaheim, California. (AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill)

Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws to the plate during the first inning of Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws to the plate during the first inning of Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill)

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MAY 5: Willy Adames # 1 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws the ball at first base against the Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium on May 5, 2021 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani takes the ball back from the catcher during the first inning of Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill)

Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws to the plate during the first inning of Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

Angel’s starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani reacts after taking a line drive from Austin Meadows of Tampa Bay in the third inning of Wednesday’s game at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

Angels, starting pitchers Shohei Ohtani and the Rays’ Austin Meadows, have a laugh after Ohtani hits a line drive hit by Meadows in the third inning of Wednesday’s game at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MAY 5: Jose Rojas # 18 of the Los Angeles Angels touches home plate after Ryan Yarbrough # 48 of the Tampa Bay Rays Jared Walsh # 20 during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium from Anaheim on May 05, 2021 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MAY 5: Jose Rojas # 18 of the Los Angeles Angels celebrates the goal with teammates in the dugout during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on May 5, 2021 in Anaheim, California . (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MAY 5: Mike Trout # 27 of the Los Angeles Angels speaks to Willy Adames # 1 and Brandon Lowe # 8 of the Tampa Bay Rays during the third inning at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on May 5, 2021 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MAY 5: Kurt Suzuki # 24 of the Los Angeles Angels gets off a pitch by Ryan Yarbrough # 48 of the Tampa during the fourth inning at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on May 5, 2021 in Anaheim, California Hit Bay Rays. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MAY 5: Mike Trout # 27 of the Los Angeles Angels gets off a pitch by Ryan Yarbrough # 48 of Tampa during the fifth inning at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on May 5, 2021 in Anaheim, California Hit Bay Rays. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MAY 5: Mike Trout # 27 of the Los Angeles Angels reacts after being pitched by Ryan Yarbrough # 48 of the Tampa during the fifth inning at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on May 5, 2021 in Anaheim Bay Rays was hit. California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MAY 5: Ryan Yarbrough # 48 of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts at the end of the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium on May 5, 2021 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

Angel’s starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws the ball after running over Joey Wendle from the Rays in the sixth inning of Wednesday’s game at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill)

Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (right) is removed from the game by manager Joe Maddon (left) while catcher Kurt Suzuki watches the sixth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium. Ohtani threw more than five goalless innings in the 3-1 defeat. (AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill)

Angel’s starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (center) is removed by manager Joe Maddon (left) as catcher Kurt Suzuki pats him on the back during the sixth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium. Ohtani threw five goalless innings in the 3-1 defeat. (AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill)

Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani leaves the field after being removed during the sixth innings of Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

Brandon Lowe of Tampa Bay Rays (right) is congratulated by Brett Phillips (center) after completing a triple home run as Los Angeles Angels catcher Kurt Suzuki during the seventh inning of a baseball game on Wednesday, on May 5, 2021, behind the plate, in Anaheim, California (AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill)

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MAY 5: Yandy Diaz # 2, Willy Adames # 1 and Brandon Lowe # 8 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate a triple home run for Lowe during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium on May 05, 2021 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MAY 5: Jeffrey Springs # 59 of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts after beating the Los Angeles Angels 3-1 at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium on May 5, 2021 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Rays catcher Francisco Mejia (left) and pitcher Jeffrey Springs congratulate each other after the Rays featured the Los Angeles Angels in a baseball game on Wednesday May 5, 2021 in Anaheim, California 3-1 defeated (AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill)

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MAY 5: Francisco Mejia # 28, Willy Adames # 1, Jeffrey Springs # 59 and Joey Wendle # 18 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate their 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels after the game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on May 05, 2021 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

The Angels overcame a shaky first inning from Shohei Ohtani. They nearly got over an injury rash that stole three of their better players and another that drove reliever Chris Rodriguez out of the game after six pitches.

When Junior Guerra took the hill in the seventh inning on Wednesday night, he made a mistake that the Angels couldn’t overcome in a 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

After Guerra took the first stroke he faced and allowed a single to the next, he served Brandon Lowe a triple home run. Just like that, Tampa Bay had everything it took to send the Angels to their fourth straight defeat in front of an announced crowd of 9,169 people at Angel Stadium.

Rodriguez, the highly competitive rookie who excelled in a setup role, got out of a critical, base-laden jam by inducing a double-play groundout to end the sixth inning. But he felt irritated in his right shoulder and was immediately removed from the game.

Manager Joe Maddon said he plans to use Guerra against the bottom of the Rays line-up. When Rodriguez reported an injury after retiring the Rays No. 7 batsman Yoshi Tsutsugo, Maddon called Guerra’s number.

On Thursday evening, the Rays (17-15) will play four games against the Angels (13-16) for the first time this season, three games under 0.500.

The Angels scored their only run in the third inning. After a double from Jose Rojas and a single from David Fletcher, Ryan Yarbrough purposely went to Mike Trout to load the bases. Then he gave Jared Walsh an inadvertent four-pitch walk.

Yarbrough (2-3) came back to beat Jose Iglesias and force-out Phil Gosselin to end the inning. The Angels went 1 to 9 with runners in the gate position, leaving nine men on the base.

On a shorthanded day for the Angels lineup, Rojas made a rare start on third base, scoring two of the team’s seven hits.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon was added to the list of 10-day injuries before the game with a knee injury. Left outfield player Justin Upton and catcher Max Stassi had the day off due to minor injuries.

That forced Taylor Ward, who was recalled by Triple-A earlier in the day, to second in the strike order. Iglesias fought for fifth place for the second day in a row. Gosselin beat sixth place. At times her inexperience was shown in coupling situations.

In the eighth inning, Walsh led away with a single, and Iglesias was hit by a pitch that brought the runners to first and second base without anyone missing. Gosselin couldn’t put a bunt down before he started a double game. A groundout by Juan Lagares, recalled by Triple-A earlier in the day, ended the inning.

« We did a good job on bats and didn’t get great success, but I know it is coming, » said Maddon.

The first inning was an adventure. The right-hander demonstrated the ability to place his fastball on either side of the batsman, interspersed with occasional command of the strike zone. Ohtani gave out two four-pitch walks but eventually got out of the inning without allowing a run.

The rest of Ohtani’s excursion was a breeze. He only allowed a runner to pass first base after the sixth inning, when he accompanied Yandy Diaz and Joey Wendle on nine fields.

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« I think I’m just trying to speed things up, » he said through his interpreter. « I’m trying to get out of the inning as quickly as possible. My body is out of sync. I have to slow down and take my time. »

Ohtani racked up seven hits, allowed one hit, and even caught Austin Meadows’ bat going 150 km / h, which slammed out of his glove into his bare hand.

Ohtani’s earned run average dropped to 2.41. He now limits his opponents to a batting average of 0.113 while hitting 0.264 himself. He didn’t hit for himself on Wednesday as Maddon opted to use a designated batsman with only one healthy player (Albert Pujols) on his bench.

Neither the hot spot that threatened to develop a blister nor the sore elbow that forced Ohtani to postpone his last start by two days were an issue on Wednesday. Ohtani said he expected to return to the Angels lineup on Thursday, then revert to a pitching schedule for every sixth game.

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