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TB@LAA: Greinke impresses, fans eight in Angels debut

ANAHEIM -- It was a hectic last couple of days -- getting traded, uprooting the family, flying from Milwaukee to Southern California, learning a new organization and building a rapport with another catcher -- but Zack Greinke pitched as advertised during his Angels debut on Sunday, giving up two runs in seven strong innings against the Rays.

If only Jeremy Hellickson weren't so dominant.

If only his new team could get him some runs.

The Angels didn't do that for their new ace pitcher, but Greinke shouldn't feel slighted. They didn't do it for C.J. Wilson on Saturday, either, instead getting shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since May 3-4, when this offense was a lot less functional.

The Angels have now been shut out in 23 straight innings, with their latest nine putting a damper on a good first impression by their new front-line starter.

"He threw great," Mark Trumbo said after a 2-0 defeat that wrapped up the Angels' 5-4 homestand. "He's got a tremendous idea of what he wants to do out there, and it was very evident today. I got to face him in spring, and his stuff is really sharp. It's too bad we didn't pick him up."

A few hours after Matt Moore hurled 6 1/3 shutout innings of four-hit ball on Saturday night, Hellickson gave up two hits and no walks in six scoreless frames, giving the Rays (53-49) two of three in the weekend set. The Angels have scored just eight runs in six games against Tampa Bay this season.

Sunday's loss snapped a couple of their winning streaks: six straight home series for the team and 19 straight home decisions for Greinke, dating all the way back to 2010 with the Royals.

"It was a pretty lucky streak to get there," Greinke said with a wry smile. "A lot had to happen out of my control."

What Greinke could control was command of his four plus pitches -- a low-90s fastball, a cutter, a sharp slider and a mid-70s curve -- which helped him scatter seven hits, walk one, strike out eight and at one point retire 10 straight in a 111-pitch outing.

Greinke, in his final year before free agency, was 9-3 with a 3.44 ERA in 21 starts for the Brewers this season, striking out 122 and walking just 28 in 123 innings. On Friday, the Angels got him for three prospects -- shortstop Jean Segura and two power right-handers, Ariel Pena and John Hellweg -- prompting Greinke to make the quick trip out West and make his next scheduled start.

"Today, I was able to make pitches and felt good, but there was definitely a little nerves going into it," Greinke said about pitching in front of the Angel Stadium crowd of 35,477.

"It's been fun so far. The clubhouse is nice; I've always liked this stadium. It's pretty early, but I feel pretty good so far. Hopefully we win a bunch of games and it becomes a fun season."

The Angels will no doubt score more runs for him as the season progresses.

Without Mike Trout, a late scratch because of a bruised left knee, they had little chance against Hellickson, the reigning American League Rookie of the Year who didn't allow a baserunner until the fourth, put two men in scoring position all afternoon and moved his career ERA against the Angels to 2.29 in 19 2/3 innings.

"There's a reason Hellickson is who he is and won the award he won last year," Trumbo said. "He's no slouch."

"Hellickson had as good or better stuff than [Greinke] did today, for me -- from where I'm watching," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm talking fastball, I'm talking changeup, his curveball today. Look at what he did with [Albert] Pujols -- punch-out on a curveball. Greinke's good, but I like our guys a lot, too."

Greinke and Hellickson staged a pitchers' duel through the first five innings, combining to give up three hits and one walk while striking out 10.

The Rays then got a run in the sixth, when a fly ball lost in the sun and a poorly executed rundown led to a two-out RBI single by Matt Joyce, then made it a two-run game when Carlos Pena scored on Greinke's wild pitch.

Otherwise ...

"He was awesome," catcher Chris Iannetta said. "He barely had any mistakes. His stuff is electric, and it speaks for itself."

The Angels had their chances. Not many, but they had some.

With Maicer Izturis on second base and one out in the fourth, Hellickson came back from a 3-0 count to strike out Pujols, then retired Trumbo on a groundout. In the sixth, Iannetta hit a leadoff single and advanced to second on a sac bunt by Peter Bourjos, but Izturis and Howie Kendrick couldn't bring him in. And in the ninth, against ex-Angels reliever Fernando Rodney, the Angels got a couple of one-out singles, but Pujols grounded into a game-ending double play to cap an 0-for-4 game.

Not the kind of offensive momentum you want before a four-game series in Texas, which begins with Ervin Santana and his 6.00 ERA on the mound.

"We have to find a way to beat good pitching, and I think during our stretch we have," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, before the start of a 10-game trip that will also pin his club against the White Sox and upstart Athletics, who are a half-game up in the Wild Card standings. "The last handful of games have been a little frustrating."

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