ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Daniel Robertson grew up watching games at Angel Stadium and was in the stands when the Los Angeles Angels won the World Series in 2002.
Coming back home with the Tampa Bay Rays, Robertson could not have conceived the Big A would be the site of his first grand slam.
Robertson homered for the second consecutive game and the Rays held on after Mike Trout’s ninth-inning homer for their sixth straight victory, 5-3 over the Angels on Saturday night.
The Rays are back at .500 for the first time since the second day of the season after winning 18 of their last 26 games.
“It’s not our end goal,” Robertson said. “We know we can compete. Teams go through ups and downs, and I’m just really proud of how we’re able to bounce back when we do lose a couple tough ballgames in a row and we’re able to get hot like this.”
Sergio Romo made his first career start after 588 appearances as a reliever, striking out the side in the first inning before being replaced by rookie left-hander Ryan Yarbrough as Rays manager Kevin Cash intended.
Yarbrough (4-2) gave up one run, four hits and one walk in 6 1/3 effective innings. He struck out four during his unconventional stint as a long reliever.
Trout’s two-run homer pulled the Angels within 5-3, but Alex Colome came in and got his 10th save.
Robertson’s fifth homer of the season was a deep shot to left-center that made it 4-0 in the second as the Rays capitalized on a throwing error by first baseman Jefry Marte that extended the inning. Marte’s underhanded lob after fielding a ground ball by Mallex Smith was well past the reach of Andrew Heaney going to the bag, giving Tampa Bay runners on first and second instead of ending the inning, and Jesus Sucre walked to load the bases.
Playing in front of hundreds of friends and family this weekend, Robertson was trying to recall if he had ever hit a grand slam as he trotted around the bases. Realizing it was his first at any level of baseball, Robertson said it was better than he could have imagined as a little kid watching the likes of Tim Salmon and Darin Erstad.
“I dreamed of hitting a home run in this stadium, and to hit the grand slam today, I was honestly laughing around the bases,” Robertson said. “It was too good to be true almost. You can’t make this stuff up.”
Heaney (2-3) took the loss without giving up an earned run. He allowed three hits and walked five in six innings while striking out seven, as the Angels lost their fifth in a row.
Marte drove in Ian Kinsler in the eighth to get the Angels on the board after Wilson Ramos had an RBI in the seventh to put the Rays up 5-0.
The Angels went 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position and are batting 7 for 47 (.149) over their last eight games.
“Your offense is really nine individual pieces and each guy has their own things on their own plate that they need to move forward with, and I think we’re starting to see some guys do it,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.