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Angels fall to Rays 5-3 for fifth consecutive loss

The joy of Shohei Ohtani, the greatness of Mike Trout, the wizardry of Andrelton Simmons, the pop of Justin Upton, the records of Albert Pujols. It all adds up to a pretty compelling team, and the promise of a pretty special summer.

Or not.

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The Angels started the week atop the American League West, tied with the defending World Series champion Houston Astros. That's legit.

They are now one game out of fourth place, a single game up on the Oakland Athletics, a team that last won the World Series 28 years ago. That's problematic.

It is not just that the Angels cannot win. They lost their fifth consecutive game, this one 5-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday. They got six hits in a game the Rays did not even start a starting pitcher.

The Angels cannot win for one reason, and one reason alone. They cannot score.

"We will turn it around," manager Mike Scioscia said. "These guys are too good."

On Saturday, they did not score for the first seven innings. They got one run in the eighth inning and two in the ninth, the latter on Mike Trout's 14th home run, but that two left them two little, two late.

They have scored 10 runs in their last five games. They won their previous two games, each 2-1.

"There are some ebbs and flows to the season, where you might have six or seven guys that are soft for a period of time, a week or whatever it might be," Scioscia said. "With the track record of these guys, and how well they did starting the season, we know they're going to find it. They will produce the offense we need.

"The sooner, the better."

One of the five consecutive losses came against Houston's Justin Verlander and, well, he is a six-time All-Star.

This time, they lost to Ryan Yarbrough, who is not even a six-time starter in the major leagues.

In fact, he did not start Saturday. Sergio Romo did, in his first start after 588 relief appearances. Romo, 35, last seen in Southern California as a Dodgers setup man gone bad, pitched one inning and struck out the side.

The Rays wanted to limit Yarbrough's exposure to the Angels lineup, which leans heavily to the right. Romo struck out Zack Cozart, Trout and Upton. Yarbrough started the second inning and pitched into the eighth, so well that the Rays let him face four batters three times.

Essentially, he outpitched the game plan. The rookie worked 61/3 innings, giving up one run and four hits to earn his fourth major league victory.

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The Rays were so delighted with the results that they said Romo would start again Sunday.

The game turned out to be a hideous and yet representative display of modern baseball. In the box score, Angels starter Andrew Heaney did just fine, pitching six innings without giving up an earned run, lowering his earned-run average to 3.35.

Heaney has started seven games this season, with a 9.64 ERA in his first two starts and a 1.45 ERA since then. He did tie his career high with five walks.

He faced 26 batters, with half of the plate appearances ending in one of the so-called "three true outcomes" — a walk, strikeout or home run. This type of baseball lulls fans to sleep, or keeps them away. There was no buzz at the ballpark, at least until the Angels' late rally.

The Rays scored four runs against Heaney in the second inning, all unearned, all with two out.

Walk. Error. Walk. Grand slam by Daniel Robertson.

Heaney was most upset not about the grand slam, but at the walk that preceded it, on five pitches, to the No. 9 hitter.

"Really didn't make one competitive pitch to him," Heaney said.

Robertson grew up in Upland. Friends and family enjoyed the moment. Rays 4, Angels 0, and that was basically your ballgame.

The three runs in the last two innings were exciting, but that was all the Angels would get. On Sunday, they could get swept by the Rays.

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin

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