ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Everything went right for the Tampa Bay Rays after a mind-numbing loss the night before. Chris Archer escaped a bases-loaded jam with Albert Pujols at the plate, Grant Balfour was able to redeem himself, and Yunel Escobar continued his success against Jered Weaver.
Escobar homered off the Los Angeles Angels' ace and James Loney and Evan Longoria had RBI singles to lead the Tampa Bay Rays to a 3-0 victory on Friday night.
Archer (3-2) allowed two hits over 5 2-3 innings and won for the first time in his last five starts, striking out five and walking five. The right-hander came in with a 6.97 ERA since his 16-1 victory over the Yankees on April 19 at St. Petersburg.
"Everything was on," Archer said. "I had the stuff to go much deeper into the game, and I wanted to do that, but walking away with a victory for the team and shutting out a good lineup, I'm not going to sit here and complain about it. I felt good with my delivery. I scuffled my last four games, but there's only been positiveness sent my way."
Archer retired his first two batters in the fifth before walking John McDonald, Erick Aybar and Mike Trout — whose walkoff three-run homer against Brad Boxberger in the ninth inning Thursday gave the Angels a 6-5 win. But Pujols grounded to third for a force on Aybar, making the two-time NL MVP 0 for 6 this season in bases-loaded situations and 3 for 22 since signing a 10-year, $240 million contract with the club in December 2011.
"I was just trying to get him out, whatever it took," Archer said. "We have super advanced scouting reports, and my stuff was good, so I tried to use a combination of both. I threw him a slider down in the strike zone and he rolled over on it."
Jake McGee, who has stranded all 13 baserunners he's inherited, started the seventh inning fresh after Juan Carlos Oviedo got the last out in the sixth. McGee gave up a single by Erick Aybar and a walk to Trout, his third of the game. But Pujols, who stranded six runners on the night, flied out to right field.
"I'm struggling right now," Pujols said. "I'm putting good swings on the ball, but there's nothing going my way. But I've been here before, so it's nothing I'm going to panic about."
Joel Peralta pitched a scoreless eighth and Balfour pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save, one night after giving up two walks and an RBI single and failing to record an out in the ninth after inheriting a three-run lead.
Weaver (4-3) allowed two runs and three hits over seven innings with five strikeouts and three walks. The Angels' ace was 4-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his previous five starts, including a 9-3 decision last Sunday in which he asked to be taken out of a game for the first time in his nine-year career because of a problem with his command — after throwing 102 pitches in 6 1-3 innings and getting staked to a 7-1 lead.
Archer matched zeros with the three-time All-Star through the first four innings, and each team had one hit — the Angels a two-out single by Pujols in the first, and the Rays a one-out single by Escobar in the third. Efren Navarro's two-out single in the sixth was the only other hit Archer allowed.
Escobar, who came in with four hits in eight career at-bats against Weaver, opened the scoring in the fifth when he drove an 0-2 pitch to left-center for his third homer of the season.
NOTES: After the game, Desmond Jennings was placed on the bereavement list. OF Kevin Kiermaier, who has played only one game in the big leagues, was recalled from Triple-A Durham. ... Weaver intentionally walked Escobar in the seventh, the right-hander's first intentional pass since Sept. 4, 2009, at Kansas City (Mark Teahen). ... Tampa Bays' last 12 shutout wins all have come on the road, including five this season. C Ryan Hanigan has caught 15 shutouts by the staff in 98 starts since catching Homer Bailey's no-hitter with Cincinnati against Pittsburgh on Sept. 28, 2012. ... Angels rookie INF Luis Jimenez beat David Price in the Halos' 40th annual cow-milking contest.... Tampa Bay 2B Cole Figueroa, who was promoted from Durham on Thursday when 2B Ben Zobrist went on the DL, made his major league debut as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. He popped out to shortstop against Mike Morin. ... Angels OF Kole Calhoun (sprained right ankle) began a rehab assignment Friday night with Triple-A Salt Lake, and 3B David Freese is scheduled to join him Saturday. Freese hasn't played since May 2 because of a non-displaced fracture in the middle finger on his right hand, after getting hit by a pitch from Texas' Colby Lewis.