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TB@LAA: Kiermaier picks up his first Major League hit

ANAHEIM -- Ever since Cesar Ramos gutted out 6 2/3 innings in a 12-5 loss to the Mariners on Monday, Rays manager Joe Maddon has sung the left-hander's praises.

After all, Ramos got roughed up in the first two innings then found himself, stuck around, and saved the bullpen for the rest of the week in games against the Mariners and Angels.

Given that scenario, seeing the short leash that Maddon had Ramos on Saturday night was totally unexpected in the Angels' 6-0 win over the Rays at Angel Stadium.

The Rays are 3-3 heading into Sunday's final game of their seven-game road trip, while remaining in last place in the American League East with a 19-25 record.

Collin Cowgill singled through the middle to start the Angels' first. Ramos then walked Mike Trout before Albert Pujols popped out to second for the first out, bringing Howie Kendrick to the plate. That's when Ramos noticed activity in the bullpen.

"Yeah, when you're facing the fourth hitter in the lineup and somebody's getting up in the bullpen, you take notice," said Ramos, who allowed two runs in the first. "And going out for the second inning, somebody's already up, it's hard not to take notice. It's in the view jogging out there toward the mound."

Ramos logged 1 1/3 innings before Maddon walked to the mound to give him the early hook.

"Extremely surprised," Ramos said. "And I don't think I was the only one."

Ramos added that he was "extremely frustrated" by his early exit.

"Thought I proved something last time," Ramos said. "I'm capable of doing it, but, you know ... "

Ramos allowed four runs on four hits and a walk to take his third loss of the season.

Maddon explained his move by saying, "It was breaking badly. ... I didn't like the way it was starting out."

Furthermore, he felt badly for Ramos, who hails from the Los Angeles area and even attended Long Beach State.

"Believe me, that's not lost on me," Maddon said. "But at the end of the day, it's about the Rays first, every place we go."

Maddon conceded that the circumstances of Saturday night's game were different than Monday night's, given the status of the Rays' bullpen and what's on the horizon.

"David [Price starts] tomorrow, day off the next day, bullpen was rested," Maddon said. "All right-handed-hitting lineup for them today. Looking at the matchups, not really stellar for Cesar tonight. We had the ability to do what we did tonight, whereas the other day we did not."

Maddon also had concerns about giving any kind of cushion to Angels starter C.J. Wilson. Once Brandon Gomes surrendered a two-run homer to Grant Green in the third to give the Angels a 6-0 lead, that pretty much put the game on ice.

"To me, the big hit was the one by Green, that kind of made it uncomfortable," Maddon said. "I thought keeping it to three or four was the best thing we could have done to possibly win that game."

Wilson used 127 pitches to finish out his second career shutout -- both have been against the Rays -- and seventh career complete game, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out seven to pick up his fifth win.

"He was good, he was really good," Maddon said. "Elevated his fastball when he wanted to. Got it underneath the righties with the breaking ball when he wanted to. He knows what he's doing. He's very competitive and he competed very well tonight."

The Rays' biggest threat against Wilson came in the seventh when they loaded the bases with one out. But James Loney rolled over the first pitch he saw and the Angels turned a 4-6-3 inning ending double-play.

"It's my first shutout here with the Angels," Wilson said. "It's what you work for between starts, lifting weights and analyzing scouting reports.

"The defense really bailed me out tonight. And the offense gave me six runs to work with, which is plenty."

Kevin Kiermaier might have provided the Rays' lone bright spot Saturday night by offering a glance into the future with his play. Throughout the game the rookie center fielder opened eyes with his strong throws that made plays closer than they should have been. The rookie also got his first Major League hit when he beat out a ground ball to short leading off the sixth.

"I thought he had some really good at-bats," Maddon said. "His swing looks really good. You saw the defensive ability. The arm. It's fun to watch. This guy's going to be really good for several years for us up here."

Price will start for the Rays on Sunday hoping to even the four-game series with the Angels and send the team home with a winning road trip to the West Coast, which has not always been the easiest task.

"We have that chance tomorrow," Maddon said. "David's coming off a pretty good game himself. We get to go home after some difficult losses, the one in Seattle, the one here. The one here is the one that stung a little more. So, if we go home with a winning record, that would be pretty cool."

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