Colon improves career record vs. Rays to 8-0

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Casey Kotchman got a chance to start all three games against his hometown team because Darin Erstad is injured.

He didn't waste the opportunity.

Kotchman hit his first career grand slam and homered twice Sunday as the Los Angeles Angels kept a share of first place in the AL West with a 10-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

"I'm just here filling in. Darin's the guy. And when he's ready to go, hopefully I can just hang around and do my part when I get a chance," said Kotchman, who was recalled from the minors earlier in the week. "Any time you get a chance to be around this
clubhouse and this group of guys, it's a privilege."

Kotchman, who had not homered in 127 big-league at-bats until his seventh-inning solo shot in Friday night's 5-4 victory, opened the scoring in the second inning with a drive over the center field fence against Tampa Bay rookie Seth McClung (2-7). Kotchman had five RBI overall.

The Angels increased the margin to 6-0 in the third when Kotchman hit the right-hander's 1-0 pitch over the 18-foot wall in right field after a two-out RBI single by Garret Anderson and a walk to Juan Rivera. It was the seventh grand slam allowed by Tampa Bay pitchers, breaking the club record.

The 22-year-old Kotchman -- who is the son of Tom Kotchman, a longtime Angels scout and minor-league manager -- was the 13th overall pick in the 2001 draft out of Seminole High School in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he was the national player of the year that season after leading his school to a state championship. He made his big-league debut on May 9, 2004 -- against the Devil Rays.

"He needed to go through a progression, and I think his time in Triple-A was well-served," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He needed that seasoning. But right now, we're looking for bats. And if his bat is going to remain lively, you build another wing for him at the inn. His future is obviously bright. And if he can swing the bat like he did today, it's going to be a welcomed addition to our lineup."

Bartolo Colon (14-6) improved his career record against the Devil Rays to 8-0, allowing two runs and seven hits in seven innings. The right-hander struck out six and worked with runners on base in every inning, giving up homers to Jonny Gomes in the sixth and Alex Gonzalez in the seventh.

Adam Kennedy homered and drove in four runs for the Angels, helping prevent them from slipping into second place for the first time since June 7.

Kennedy drove in the Angels' seventh run with an RBI single in the fifth against Dewon Brazelton and then added a three-run homer in the seventh against Jesus Colume after a pair of walks by the right-hander. The Devil Rays' staff walked nine altogether, raising the team's major league-leading total to 445.

"Hey, listen, we've seen this movie before. Don't think this is the first time we've been to the theater and sat down and watched this," Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. "You keep hoping these kids harness their control and give themselves a chance. There's a reason we lead the league in walks.

"What happens, invariably, is that you're pitching behind in the count all the time, the umpire gets tired and he starts calling the questionable pitches balls. Now, all of a sudden, the hitter gets a nice fillet to hit," he said.

McClung lost for the fifth time in seven decisions, allowing six runs, six hits and five walks in just 2 2/3 innings.

"You can't expect to walk five, six hitters every time you go out there and expect to win at the big-league level. It's impossible," Piniella said. "The last few times he's pitched,
we've beaten up our bullpen. If we get another one like that, we'll try to find a replacement for him, too."

Game notes
Gonzalez entered the game 1-for-15 lifetime against Colon. Julio Lugo was 2-for-17, Travis Lee 2-for-14 and Carl Crawford
1-for-13. The only one in that quartet who wasn't in the starting lineup was Crawford, who has started in all but three of the Devil Rays' 112 games. ... Tampa Bay pitchers have allowed 135 home runs, the most in the majors.

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