ANAHEIM -- Missed opportunities on Saturday not only cost the Angels a win against the Rays, they came at the price of second place in the division, as well.
The Angels were shut out for the 10th time this season and fell for the seventh time in the last eight games against the Rays, losing, 3-0, at Angel Stadium. The loss was the Angels' third in eight games so far on their current nine-game homestand.
Coupled with a Rangers loss and an Athletics win, the Angels remained four games behind first-place Texas in the American League West standings but fell a half-game back of Oakland for third place in the division. It was the second time in the last three games the Angels have occupied third place in the division. They had held second place for 50 straight games before Tuesday.
"It's very convenient, isn't it?" Hard-luck loser C.J. Wilson said of the A's quiet leap into second place.
"I think that's the thing, people don't realize how difficult the season is overall. There's a lot of teams playing for the same thing, and with the double Wild Card format, everybody still realistically has a chance to get in the playoffs. Everybody's really still in it, regardless of where they finish in their division."
The Angels' shutout was their first since June 15 against the D-backs. They were held scoreless eight times through the first month and a half of the season alone.
Rays starter Matt Moore kept the Angels in check for 6 1/3 innings, allowing four hits and two walks, while striking out six. After holding the Angels hitless until the fourth inning, Moore pitched in and out of jams before being taken out after 103 pitches.
The Angels (55-46) had chances against Moore (7-7) but could never take advantage. They led off the fourth inning with a walk and a base hit but didn't score.
They had the bases loaded with one out the following inning, but Albert Pujols popped up to the pitcher's mound and Bobby Wilson was tagged out on a questionable call at home trying to score on a wild pitch. Moore's pitch got behind Jose Molina, but the catcher retrieved the ball and tossed it to Moore, who swiped at Wilson and appeared to miss the tag. Wilson and manager Mike Scioscia argued umpire Phil Cuzzi's call to no avail.
"I know when I swiped through, it felt like I hit the bill of his helmet," Moore said. "It felt real light coming through, so I tagged him again coming back through to show the umpire like I got the ball, try to get him again on the way back. It was a fast play. It happened really fast."
In total, the Angels left eight men on base and were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. None was bigger than that fifth inning, however, as any energy the offense had in that frame basically vanished the rest of the game.
"We had great opportunities there," Scioscia said. "Moore made some tough pitches to Albert. Then the wild pitch, we didn't get the call at home. So it's a tough way to get out of that inning. We definitely had some momentum on our side. Those guys got out of it."
After Moore's departure, the Rays' bullpen combination of Jake McGee, Joel Peralta and former Angels pitcher Fernando Rodney combined to allow just one hit, while striking out five over the next 2 2/3 innings.
The Rays (52-49) got the only run they would need in the first inning when Ben Zobrist's sacrifice fly knocked home Desmond Jennings, who had doubled to left field on the first pitch of the game.
Their second run came in the second inning after Sean Rodriguez walked, stole second and advanced to third on an overthrow from Bobby Wilson, then scored when shortstop Maicer Izturis flubbed a routine pop fly from Matt Joyce. The ball bounced off Izturis' glove, rolled away and allowed Rodriguez to score, giving the Rays a 2-0 lead.
Wilson (9-7) lasted 6 2/3 innings in the loss, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits and three walks, while striking out seven.
It was his sixth straight start without a win, with his last victory coming on June 26 at Baltimore. July will be the lefty's first winless calendar month since becoming a full-time starter in 2010.
"Moore's got great stuff, but we've beaten a lot of guys this year," C.J. Wilson said. "So you just always have that optimism that the team's going to score and come up with hits, but obviously in those situations we didn't get the big hit. They scratched out that run in the first inning and that was all they needed after that. So it's more frustrating."
Joe McIntyre is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.