ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) It's going to take a lot more than winning a series from the struggling Tampa Bay Rays for the last-place Los Angeles Angels to turn their season around.
Winning three straight for the first time in nearly three months is encouraging, though, especially considering the type of pitching performance the team got from Hector Santiago in Thursday's 5-1 victory.
Santiago limited the sputtering Rays to three singles over seven scoreless innings, C.J. Cron drove in two runs and Albert Pujols snapped a scoreless tie with a single that gave him 15 RBIs in his last 15 games.
''When you rebound with three games like we have, you're going in the right direction,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after Los Angeles won for just the fifth time in 17 games.
''But we have our work cut out for us. We need to keep getting better, and we're not going to get better until our rotation gets solid and these guys get comfortable and keep throwing like you saw Hector (Thursday),'' Scioscia added. ''Once that starts to happen, I think we're all going to feel more comfortable with where we are.''
Pujols put the Angels ahead with his sixth-inning single off rookie Blake Snell (1-4). Cron followed with a RBI grounder that the Rays, who've lost 19 of 22, were unable to turn into an inning-ending double play.
The Angels, who've taken three straight for their longest winning streak since they won four in a row from May 13-16, added two more runs in the eighth on Cron's bases-loaded sacrifice fly and a perfectly executed double steal that saw Pujols swipe second base while Mike Trout sprinted home without drawing a throw to make it 4-0.
Santiago (6-4) walked four and struck out nine. The left-hander worked out situations with runners in scoring position in the second and third innings, then only allowed two men to reach base over his last four innings.
Tampa Bay's Brad Miller homered on reliever Joe Smith's first pitch, breaking up the shutout.
''I feel really comfortable from the stretch, I've been saying that for the last four or five starts,'' Santiago said. ''I feel when I'm in the stretch I have a great mindset and a positive mindset.''
Snell, who has taken the loss in four of his six career starts, allowed two runs and four hits over six innings for Tampa Bay. The 23-year-old left-hander walked two and struck out seven.
The Angels move on to Baltimore, where they'll finish a 10-game road trip heading into the All-Star break. They've scored 57 runs through seven games while batting .323, including .382 with runners in scoring position.
''We got three out of four here, and this road trip we've been pretty good, pitching-wise and offensively,'' Santiago said. ''All around, we're clicking.''
Angels: RHP Cory Rasmus is expected to miss a minimum of six more weeks after surgery on Thursday to repair a right groin injury. ... C Geovany Soto, out since May 18 with a right lateral meniscus injury, might be activated this weekend.
Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) felt fine one day after his first rehab start Wednesday night for Class A Charlotte and will make his next appearance Monday. ... C Curt Casali, who left Wednesday's game with a bruise on the left side of his head after being struck by a back swing, sat out the series finale and is day to day. ... INF Steve Pearce (strained right hamstring) is scheduled to start on-field batting practice Friday.
Tampa Bay's Chris Archer (4-11, 127 strikeouts) and Drew Smyly (2-10, 108) are the second pair of teammates in major league history to lose 10 or more games while fanning at least 100 batters before the All-Star break. Clay Kirby (6-11, 126) and Steve Arlin (8-11, 115) did it for the San Diego Padres in 1972.
Angels 3B Yunel Escobar went 3 for 5, extending his hitting streak to a career best-matching 12 games. SS Andrelton Simmons, meanwhile, doubled in the eighth inning, giving him a nine-game hitting streak.
Angels: Continue a 10-game East Coast road trip leading into the All-Star break, with RHP Matt Shoemaker (3-9, 4.40 ERA) making his second start of the season against Baltimore. He pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out a career-high 12 in his start against the Orioles at Angel Stadium on May 21.
Rays: Archer, who lost eight straight decisions against the Red Sox, starts the opener of a weekend series in Boston. The right-hander, who's gone from an All-Star a year ago to leading the majors in losses this season, is the first pitcher since Phil Niekro (Braves) in 1977 to have as many as 11 losses and 127 strikeouts at the All-Star break. The other times that happened occurred in 1973, when Nolan Ryan (Angels), Gaylord Perry (Indians) and Wilbur Wood (White Sox) all did it.