ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Their winning streak over, the Los Angeles Angels still go to Oakland with a nice cushion over the Athletics in the AL West.
Tampa Bay stopped the Angels' win string at eight with an 8-4 victory Sunday, when Jorge Cantu and Aubrey Huff homered on consecutive pitches from Los Angeles ace Bartolo Colon. Mark Hendrickson pitched eight solid innings to win his seventh consecutive decision.
Having wrapped up their home schedule for the regular season, the Angels open a crucial four-game series Monday night against the second-place Athletics, who are four games back after losing 6-2 to Texas on Sunday night.
"You like to have a lead going into a big series, but there's no coasting, no getting help from other teams," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's not going to be any backing into the playoffs, and that's the way it should be.
"The only way you can beat Oakland is with good pitching. You've got to match them pitch by pitch."
Colon (20-8) gave up six runs and 10 hits in five innings, but is scheduled to come back Thursday to start the final game against the A's. He's eager to go again.
"The next one is a start I'm looking forward to, hopefully to put this one behind me," Colon said through a translator.
Bothered recently by a sore back, Colon said it hurt only a little in his outing against the Devil Rays, and he felt fine afterward.
Hendrickson (11-7) allowed four runs and eight hits in eight innings. The former NBA forward struck out three and walked one before giving way to Danys Baez.
"Hendrickson's had himself a real nice finish to this season," Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. "He hasn't been beaten in 11 starts, which is pretty impressive for a team that is under .500 like we are.
"He's a lot responsible for the way we've played. To me, he's pitching with a lot more confidence. You can see it out there. But that's what winning does for you. You get aggressive, you make better pitches and you make better choices."
Hendrickson said Piniella provided him with some motivation earlier in the year.
"It was kind of a wake-up call for me when Lou told the press that if I didn't turn it around, they may find somebody else," Hendrickson said. "At that point, I kind of re-evaluated my approach and really looked hard into what I can do better and asked myself if I was doing everything I needed to do off the field to prepare for my starts.
"Hopefully, I can keep this going. I've got one more start to finish up strong, and that's where my focus is."
After Cantu hit a two-run shot to center with two outs in the third inning, Huff sent a high drive to right for a 4-1 lead. Jonny Gomes added a solo shot off Colon in the fifth.
Colon, the AL's first 20-game winner this season and the first Angels pitcher to reach the plateau since Nolan Ryan in 1974, lost to Tampa Bay for the first time in nine career decisions.
Cantu's home run was his 28th, and it extended his club record for RBIs in a season to 114. Huff and Gomes have 21 homers apiece.
The victory gave the Devil Rays a 37-30 record since the All-Star break and assured them of a winning record in the second half for the first time in their eight-year history.
Asked about the improved play, Piniella, who is expected to leave the team after this season, said: "It's a credit to these kids. For one, we've been able to keep our rotation intact. We've had five starters who really haven't had any injuries. I think we've made only two changes to our team since the All-Star break. We've used everybody.
"And, to their credit, these kids have performed. I commend them, I really do."
Gomes had three hits, including a triple, and Julio Lugo had a pair of doubles, scored twice and drove in another run.
- The crowd of 41,733 in their final home game of the regular season gave the Angels a total of 3,404,686, an increase of 29,009 over their previous record set last year.
- The Devil Rays took five of nine against the Angels, the first time they've won the season series.