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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Back on June 3, Alex Cobb looked like a pitcher whose season was in trouble. He had just given up a career-high nine earned runs to fall to 4-5 with a 4.52 ERA.
Six weeks later, the Tampa Bay Rays' right-hander has become an entirely new pitcher.
Cobb continued his turnaround on a warm Saturday night, holding the Los Angeles Angels to one run in the Rays' 6-3 victory.
He did not allow a run until Luis Valbuena hit a solo home run in the sixth, the first of two homers for him.
Cobb (8-6) allowed six hits and three walks in his 7 2/3 innings, with four strikeouts. Since that June 3 start against the Baltimore Orioles, he has gone 4-1 with a 2.16 ERA in seven starts, going at least six innings in each.
"We had a bunch of production kind of spread out through the lineup, but the story is still is really how Alex pitched," said Rays manager Kevin Cash.
Helped by drives hit almost directly at fielders, Cobb dominated early before falling behind in the count in his later innings.
"Fortunately when it did get to those counts, I was able to make some pitches or they hit a line drive at somebody," Cobb said. "It's not something that's a formula for success going down the road, but was able to get by with it tonight."
He was supported by a 14-hit attack. Logan Morrison provided the key hit with a two-run homer in the third for a 3-0 lead. It was his 25th home run. Steven Souza Jr. added a solo homer in the eighth to give him a career-high 18 home runs.
The Angels' JC Ramirez (8-8) allowed four runs on eight hits and a walk, while striking out five.
"JC gave up a bunch of hits early but made some pitches to minimize the damage," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "I thought JC's stuff was OK, not bad, but had trouble at times making pitches when he had to."
ANGELS' OFFENSIVE WOES
The Angels are 28th in baseball in on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.691) and Scioscia is growing weary of his team's lack of offensive production.
"We have to get a lot more continuity offensively," Scioscia said. "We need to pressure these teams every inning."
The Rays did not commit an error and backed Cobb up with some timely defensive plays. Cobb said since he was pitching to contact, it was highly appreciated.
"It's at the caliber right now that we're going to need it to be at to get to where we want to be in October and into the playoffs," he said. "I think it's amongst the best in baseball right now. It's been fun to watch the progression."
The Angels have lost four of their last five games to fall four games under .500 (45-49) for the first time this season.
Rays: Catcher Wilson Ramos tweaked his right hamstring running the bases in the 10th inning Friday and was not in the lineup. Tampa would like to rest him for a couple of days but said he was available. ... Shortstop Tim Beckham (left ankle sprain) was activated from the disabled list after the game optioned infielder Taylor Featherston back to triple-A.
Angels: Right-hander Garrett Richards, who hasn't pitched since his season debut April 5 because of a biceps injury, has played catch the past two days. ... Right-hander Nick Tropeano is scheduled to throw off a mound Monday for the first time since his Tommy John surgery last August.
Rays: Right-hander Chris Archer (7-5, 3.95 ERA) makes his first start since the All-Star Game. Archer is 5-1 with a 2.48 ERA in six career starts against the Angels and has won the last four.
Angels: Are scheduled to recall right-hander Parker Bridwell (3-1, 3.42) to start against the Rays on Sunday. He was optioned back to Triple-A prior to the break so the Angels could add another reliever. He threw six scoreless innings against the Twins in his last start July 5.
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