ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Tampa-St. Pete area is no longer your destination spot for early-bird dinners and easy wins.
The Angels are the latest team to find out how things have changed under the Tropicana Field roof, losing 8-5 to the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday afternoon to complete a three-game sweep.
It is only the second time in the Rays' 11-year history they have swept the Angels. The other sweep came in August 2005 and could be dismissed as a fluke. This time, though, the competitive-at-last Rays raised their record to 21-16 with the sweep - the first time in franchise history they have been five games over .500 at any point in any season.
"They have a lot of good things going and we saw it first hand," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
"You come in here and you think you should sweep or at least win the series - psych!" Angels centerfielder Torii Hunter said. "They will knock you out. Come in here thinking you're the man - they'll knock you back to earth."
The Angels came into Sunday's game with their offense thoroughly grounded.
Their scoreless streak finally ended at 20 innings when they scored three times in the third inning on consecutive RBI singles by Vladimir Guerrero, Garret Anderson and Hunter.
It was the first time this season the Angels' men in the middle had RBIs in the same game. They finished the day 7for12, drove in all five Angels' runs and scored three. Anderson was robbed of another RBI when Guerrero was thrown out at home in the fifth inning. Replays clearly showed Guerrero beat the tag and Scioscia argued the call to no avail - one of three times in the game the Angels manager had issues with the umpiring crew.
"You have to absorb a lot to win. The last four, five days we haven't played at a level to absorb a bad call or hitting a line drive at a fielder," Scioscia said. "We have to regroup. Our level of play has to pick up to where it was a week or two ago."
Ervin Santana avoided absorbing his first loss of the season despite turning in his worst start of the season. Santana (6-0) allowed five runs on nine hits (both season highs) in a season-low 5 2/3 innings. It was the first time in eight starts Santana didn't have a "quality start" (three or fewer runs allowed in six innings or more).
But he left with a 5-4 lead in the sixth inning.
"Ervin started off a (little) bit slow, picked it up and actually got into a pretty good rhythm," Scioscia said. "I wish he didn't have to work as hard to get to that point - 113 pitches. But you like to bring a reliever in where he can get his feet on the ground and the situation is not quite as much do-or-die."
Justin Speier came in with a runner on first and two outs. But in a span of eight pitches, Speier allowed a double to Akinori Iwamura, a three-run home run to Carl Crawford and a double to B.J. Upton, then threw two wild pitches with Carlos Pena batting, which allowed Upton to score.
"Just put these two losses, Friday and today, on me," said Speier, who gave up a two-run, walkoff home run to Evan Longoria on Friday. "I just haven't made my pitches like I normally could.
"You're cruising along for a little while then this game will humble you."
In his past four outings, Speier has been humbled to the tune of six runs on nine hits (including three home runs) in just 2 2/3 innings.
"Career-wise, I'm better against lefties than righties. This year, I've kind of struggled against them but that's because my location has been off," Speier said. "I'm going to iron it out. Sometimes you get in a funk and you try to figure too much out. Sometimes less is more. I'm just going back to work tomorrow."