Angels go from Dan Haren’s bad to Jered Weaver’s worse

This wasn’t what Jered Weaver had in mind when he said in spring training that the Angels rotation, which many thought would be among the best in baseball, “is built off guys trying to outdo each other.”

Weaver outdid his buddy, Dan Haren, all right. After Haren was roughed up for five runs in 32/3 innings of Thursday’s loss, Weaver was torched for a career-high nine earned runs and eight hits in three innings of Friday night’s 12-3 loss to Tampa Bay in Angel Stadium.

After solo home runs by B.J. Upton in the first inning and Ben Zobrist in the second, Weaver failed to retire any of the seven batters he faced in the fourth, the Rays using five hits, including Jose Molina’s two-run single and Desmond Jennings’ RBI double, and two walks to knock out the Angels ace.

Weaver (15-3) entered with a 2.22 earned run average. He departed with a 2.74 ERA after giving up as many earned runs as he allowed in 10 previous home starts.

“There are going to be times when stuff like this happens, but this is obviously not the good time of year for it,” Weaver said. “Nothing was good. It was one of those games where everything they hit found holes and gaps. It’s disappointing, but I can’t dwell on it.”

This is becoming an all-too-familiar theme for a rotation Manager Mike Scioscia likes to call “the heartbeat of the club” but one that has barely shown a pulse in August.

A starting staff the Angels are devoting $53 million to has combined for a 3-6 record and 6.02 ERA in the last 16 games, allowing 62 earned runs and 20 homers in 922/3 innings.

And that’s with Ervin Santana, who was so bad in July (12.21 ERA) he was nearly bumped from the rotation, pitching well enough for the Angels to win his three starts this month.

“We just need to do a better job of getting our best stuff into the game and putting up zeros,” Scioscia said. “I don’t sense that these guys are pressing, saying, ‘We had a bad start, I need to go out there and do it.’ They need to pitch their game.”

Some miscommunication between Weaver and catcher Chris Iannetta compounded Weaver’s struggles Friday.

“Chris has been rolling, but we just couldn’t get on the same page,” Weaver said. “It was one of those weird nights.”

With two on and no outs in the fourth, Weaver let up on a first pitch to Jeff Keppinger that floated behind the Rays first baseman’s head and to the backstop for a wild pitch.

“It was a miscommunication on location,” Scioscia said. “Weaver made his turn, something looked different, and he lost his release point.”

Weaver walked Keppinger to load the bases, and Sean Rodriguez, Ryan Roberts, Molina and Jennings followed with run-scoring hits.

“I made a mistake,” Iannetta said of the pitch to Keppinger. “I put down the wrong sign. It’s my fault.”

B.J. Upton led Tampa Bay’s 17-hit attack with four hits and three RBIs, and James Shields (11-7) gave up three runs and struck out eight in six innings, as Tampa Bay won for the 14th time in 19 games and improved to 7-1 against the Angels.

The only bright spots for the Angels, who fell 31/2 games behind the Rays in the wild-card race, were a third-inning homer by Erick Aybar, which snapped a 34-inning scoreless streak against the Rays, and Howie Kendrick’s two-run homer in the fourth.

After the game, the Angels optioned reliever Steve Geltz to triple-A to clear a roster spot for Scott Downs, who will be activated Saturday.