Passed balls costly for Weaver, Angels
Rays score two the easy way as Price wins pitchers' duel
ANAHEIM -- It was something out of the "Twilight Zone," and Jered Weaver didn't care much for it.
Weaver pitched brilliantly, notching a career-high 12 strikeouts, but the blazing Rays showed why they have the best record in the Majors, taking advantage of the Angels' generosity in a 4-3 decision in the Wednesday twilight in front of 35,700 at Angel Stadium.
Tampa Bay claimed its first series at Angel Stadium since 1999 -- one year before manager Mike Scioscia's arrival in Anaheim. Joe Maddon came along for the ride as Scioscia's bench coach, finding his way to the Rays seven seasons leader as their manager.
"It's really hard to win here, man," said Maddon, who spent 32 years in the Angels organization. "I used to live here. It's really hard to come in here and win. I know that. You ask any of the East Coast teams what it's like. The Yankees used to have a hard time here, and to a certain extent, Boston [would struggle] when they used to come out here.
"It's a tough place to play. It's a great environment for the Angels. They've created a wonderful environment. They have a great fan base, and the place is about as electric and loud as any place can be when things get hot. And it's nice that we're kind of deaf to that. I like it."
The Rays have been making a lot of home stadiums quiet this season, going 15-4 on the road. Their 24-10 record is the best in the Majors through 34 games since the 2005 White Sox, who went on to win it all, were 25-9.
The Angels, American League West champions in five of the past six seasons, have taken up residence on the darker side during the season's first six weeks.
"We have the potential to play at a much higher level," Scioscia said, his team flailing along at 15-21. "We have tremendous upside.
"Some guys are not playing to their capabilities. They're better players than they've shown."
Three unearned runs, two on passed balls, were Weaver's undoing in a superlative effort against the Rays.
The cross-firing right-hander's 12 strikeouts came on 120 pitches, 80 in the strike zone. He issued two walks in seven innings, yielding six hits and two walks while giving up one earned run.
It was Weaver's seventh quality start in eight outings.
The Rays gave David Price (5-1) an early lead with a pair of unearned runs against Weaver in the first inning, owing to an error by third baseman Kevin Frandsen and a passed ball charged to catcher Ryan Budde.
"He was crossed up," Scioscia said. "There was nothing he could do about that one."
Budde was changing signs on an 0-1 count to Pat Burrell when Weaver launched a fastball that skipped away from the catcher, enabling Carl Crawford to score with his world-class speed. Budde thought he'd called for a slider.
Crawford had reached on a bunt single after Frandsen's error on Jason Bartlett's leadoff grounder.
"Baseball happened in the first inning -- nothing you can do about it," Weaver said. "After that, I settled in and had good command of my fastball and breaking stuff."
Ben Zobrist's double carried into the right-field corner, with Crawford stopping at third. The bases were loaded after a walk to Carlos Pena following an extremely close 2-2 pitch when Weaver's pitch got past Budde.
"Mental errors can't happen around here," Budde said. "Mike preaches that. I know better than to do that."
Weaver shrugged when asked about the cross-up, maintaining that neither he nor Budde even knew who was at fault "because we were changing signs so often."
Torii Hunter's two-out RBI single to left brought the Angels to within a run in the third.
The Rays reclaimed a two-run lead in the fifth when Bartlett walked with two away, took third on Crawford's single and scored on a second passed ball charged to Budde.
"It was a changeup down, and I apologized to Weave for letting him down," Budde said, "And he said, 'No big deal. Keep battling.' He understands."
Weaver, who fell to 4-2 while lowering his ERA to 2.47, had five K's in a row before Tampa Bay rallied in the fifth.
Evan Longoria's double and an RBI single by B.J. Upton scored the Rays' first earned run in the sixth to make it 4-1.
The Angels made it 4-2 in the bottom half when Howard Kendrick lashed a double to center to score Kendry Morales, who'd reached on Longoria's throwing error from third base.
Maddon made extensive use of his bullpen in getting the Rays to closer Rafael Soriano. Randy Choate, Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler and Lance Cormier took turns frustrating the Angels in the seventh and eighth, before Soriano slammed the door with a perfect ninth for his ninth save.
The Angels return to AL West play this weekend at Angel Stadium with the arrival of the Athletics for their second series of the season.
Dallas Braden will be the headliner on Friday night, making his first start for Oakland since throwing a perfect game against Tampa Bay last Sunday. He'll face Joe Saunders in a duel of lefties.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.