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TB@LAA: Brignac belts a solo shot to right field

ANAHEIM -- John Jaso took off running for reasons existing only between his ears. But happily for the Rays, his steal of third in the 10th put him in position to score the winning run on Reid Brignac's safety squeeze as the Rays took a 4-3 win over the Angels on Wednesday night with 33,157 watching.

In victory, the Rays completed their first-ever sweep of a series at Angel Stadium while moving to 33-29 on the season to remain 2 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East. The sweep came at the most unlikely of times, when the team fought off a virus that afflicted many of the players.

"We played well the whole time," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Great energy in the dugout despite all the illness we had going throughout the team. ... It was a fun three days the way we went about our business. I'm very proud of the guys. The way we fought back there. I've always talked about winning extra-inning games on the road and that was the mark of a good baseball team."

With the score tied at 3, Jaso drew a leadoff walk against Fernando Rodney. Evan Longoria, who did not play in either of the first two games due to illness, then got a pinch-hit infield single to put runners at first and second.

Brignac hit next and failed to get down a sacrifice bunt on his first attempt. Inexplicably, Jaso then attempted to steal third, and he did so safely when Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo dropped the ball.

"I didn't even know he took off because the [pitch] came up and in at me and I was bailing away trying to get out of the way of 97 right by my face," Brignac said. "But I turned back around and saw him slide in. I didn't even know if he held on to the ball if he was going to be safe or out. I didn't see any of it."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia maintained they were not surprised by Jaso's play.

Callaspo "was prepped," Scioscia said. "We know that they do that. Alberto just got a little deep and didn't react. [Coach Alfredo Griffin] told him before the situation -- the pitch before -- and unfortunately Alberto dropped the baseball."

Jaso smiled when asked why he dared to try to steal third with no outs in the inning.

"I can't give away all my secrets," Jaso said. "I don't know. I guess I just kind of saw an opening in my head. It was kind of one of those plays that looked great tonight, but if I was out I would look really, really dumb."

Brignac successfully placed a bunt up the first-base line on his next attempt and Jaso slide safely home with what turned out to be the winning run.

"Just kind of glad it all worked out," Jaso said. The stolen base "kind of got more momentum going. And Reid laid down that nice bunt. And got me to score and here we are packing up and going on the plane happy."

Maddon called Brignac the "player of the game" for several stellar plays he made in the field and for his bat work. Brignac owned the distinction of driving in the first run of the game with a home run off Jered Weaver in the third, then in bunted in the final run.

"It doesn't happen too often like that, but that's how it got drawn up," Brignac said. "I was just fortunate enough to get the bunt down to where Fernando couldn't get to it in a good spot so Jaso could score."

Kyle Farnsworth pitched a scoreless 10th to preserve the win while earning his 13th save of the season.

James Shields and Weaver started in a marquee pitching matchup. Each pitched well and each came away with a no-decision after allowing three earned runs apiece.

Shields took a 3-0 lead into the eighth, but the Angels loaded the bases with no outs, prompting Maddon to bring in Cesar Ramos to face Bobby Abreu, who doubled to clear the bases and tie the score at 3.

"I don't think I was getting tired," said Shields. "They weren't swinging at the off-speed like I wanted them to. They had some good at-bats in my last inning. For the most part I thought I pitched pretty well tonight."

"Complete Game" James would have enjoyed adding to the three complete games he's already pitched this season, but Shields couldn't be too disappointed based on the outcome. After all, Tampa Bay had finally achieved a series sweep here in its 21st attempt.

"I think it just shows what kind of a team we are," Shields said. "Going into Seattle, we lose three out of four. That's not a good way to start a road trip. Now we're 4-3 headed into this last series on the road trip. This was a big series to win." Comments