St. Petersburg, FL – Bobby Abreu hit a pair of solo home runs and Peter Bourjos added a three-run blast, powering the Angels to a 6-3 win over the Rays in the rubber match of a three-game series.
Scott Kazmir (9-14), in his first start at Tropicana Field since being traded by Tampa Bay last August, gave up one run on six hits and two walks over five innings to get the win for Los Angeles, which has won seven of its last 10.
Jeff Niemann (10-7) was touched for five runs on six hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings for the AL wild card-leading Rays, who have alternated wins and losses for the last eight games to remain in second in the East Division.
"I really loved the way we played today despite not winning," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "There's going to be games when you don't get more runs than the other side but you're proud of the way your team played.
Tampa heads to New York on Monday to open a pivotal four-game series at Yankee Stadium trailing the division leaders by a half-game.
"We gotta take whatever positives we can into this series," said Rays third baseman Evan Longoria. "We always talk about big series throughout the course of the year and this is the biggest for us."
Abreu and Kelly Shoppach traded solo shots in the first and second inning, respectively.
In the fourth, Howie Kendrick and Hank Conger walked in front of Bourjos's two-out round-tripper over the left field wall for a 4-1 cushion.
Niemann was lifted after Hideki Matsui doubled home Torii Hunter an inning later, and Abreu took Jeremy Hellickson deep to right in the seventh for his 15th career multi-homer game.
Dan Johnson's groundout plated Ben Zobrist in the home eighth, though the Rays stranded two runners in the inning.
Zobrist added an RBI single in the ninth, but with two outs and a runner on second, Carl Crawford hit a liner off reliever Jordan Walden that deflected to Juan Rivera for the tag out, giving Walden his first career save.
Niemann came in with a 9.15 earned-run average in four career starts against the Angels...Crawford had three hits for the Rays, who went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position...Kazmir picked up his first win since August 7, ending a seven-start winless streak...Tampa lost a series at home for the first time since Arizona took two of three from June 25-27.