ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Wil Myers never stopped working diligently during his recent slump. Neither did the Tampa Bay Rays during their recent skid.
The rookie slugger and his teammates are both seeing rewards for their persistence heading into the final weeks of the playoff chase.
Myers hit two homers off Jered Weaver, and the Rays kept pace in the AL wild-card race with a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.
Myers had never faced Weaver, but he homered on the first pitch he saw from the Angels' longtime ace in the second inning. He homered again in the seventh on Weaver's first pitch after a mound visit, driving a two-run shot into the Rays' bullpen behind left field.
"The only way to get through a slump is to keep hitting," said Myers, who batted just .209 in August after an impressive start to his major league career. "You can't take days off. It's good to be able to help the team like that. Definitely a nice feeling."
Tampa Bay (77-61) stayed 2½ games ahead of the Yankees atop the wild-card standings and remained 5½ games behind first-place Boston in the AL East.
"We don't want just a wild card," Myers said. "We're still trying to win the division. It's nice to not be looking from the outside the wild card, but we still want more than that."
Myers is bouncing back from a rough stretch in August to stay in contention for the AL Rookie of the Year award alongside teammate Chris Archer, Texas' Martin Perez and Angels leadoff hitter J.B. Shuck. Myers, who didn't get called up to the majors until June 18, had his first multi-hit game in two weeks during Tampa Bay's win on Tuesday night.
Weaver (9-8) yielded six hits over seven innings, but gave up two no-doubt shots to Myers, who hadn't homered since Aug. 14.
"He's got some pop, obviously," Weaver said. "There's some holes there, but I didn't quite find those holes. Just two bad pitches ended up beating us, but I felt like I threw a good game for the most part. I threw up a quality start, which the only thing I could do. It's tough."
Myers' first homer off Weaver also produced his first RBI since Aug. 20. He finished with his second multi-homer game of the season, also doing it July 28 at Yankee Stadium.
"Those balls were crushed," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "That's nice to see. We could really use that right about now. This is a young man that's not overwhelmed. He's going to have some moments, but that's a Cy Young-caliber pitcher, and he handled it well."