ST. PETERSBURG -- The Angels were on their way to breaking a three-game losing streak and ending a dose of misery that has affected them throughout this dismal start of the 2012 campaign when a newly acquired Tampa Bay player kept them dazed and confused.
Brandon Allen, who split time between the Diamondbacks and the A's last season, hit a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning off Angels closer Jordan Walden to give the Angels a 4-3 gut-wrenching loss. It was the first at-bat for Allen, who made his first plate appearance for the Rays on Wednesday -- during which he coaxed a bases-loaded walk that plated the winning run -- after being picked up off waivers on Saturday.
Surprisingly, Torii Hunter had a feeling Allen would come through.
"I knew that guy had pop when he was with the Diamondbacks," Hunter said. "He carries himself like he knows how to hit the ball. He's got power. It's just about him getting a chance to showcase it."
The Angels fell to 6-13 on the season, their worst start since 2002, when they began 6-14 before reeling off eight straight wins on the way to eventually capturing a World Series title.
"You have to play at a high level where you absorb some things that might happen, and when it does slip away, then obviously it is magnified," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Those guys over there are going to make you earn every inch. But I think we did some good things on the field that can carry over into Cleveland."
Before the Angels' contest against the Rays on Thursday, Scioscia mentioned a theme that he hopes his players will use to create momentum.
Less is more.
The Angels initially trailed after starter Jerome Williams surrendered an RBI double to Ben Zobrist in the first.
The hot-hitting Mark Trumbo evened things in the fifth with a solo homer off Rays starter Matt Moore. In doing so, he broke up the no-hit bid by the young lefty and added to his collection of hits this April, which have occurred in nine of 11 starts.
"Just being given the opportunity, and I'm trying to make the most of it," said Trumbo, who made his second start of the season in right field.
The Angels exemplified Scioscia's philosophy in the sixth inning, when one of their biggest stars attempted something usually relegated for the scrappy and speedy suspects.
After Howie Kendrick struck out, Albert Pujols, who was hitless over five starts for the first time in his career, knocked a slow roller into center for a single. Pujols, who has yet to homer, rounded first in a typical fashion for any player who is on the lookout for a possible error in the outfield, but the nine-time All-Star saw that Rays center fielder B.J. Upton was taking his time gathering the ball.
Pujols darted for second and almost beat the throw before being tagged out by Sean Rodriguez.
"When you see someone like [Pujols] do that, it kind of wakes you up and gives you a spark," Hunter said. "He's trying to make things happen for us, and it pumped us up a bit."
While Pujols might have been attempting to generate more from less, the Angels used the inspiration to manufacture runs. Hunter followed with a single to right and then scored on Trumbo's double to the gap in right.
Trumbo hustled to third when Zobrist made a throwing error and then scored on an infield single by Vernon Wells.
"I liked the play," Trumbo said of Pujols' attempt. "He's doing whatever he can to give us a spark, and it did just that."
Williams was in the midst of tossing his second consecutive quality start and had given the Angels solid footing to earn their first win since beating the Orioles on Saturday. The 30-year-old right-hander allowed two runs on five hits while striking out six and walking three over seven innings.
"I've just been focused on attacking the hitters and pounding the strike zone," said Williams, who gave up five runs on five hits in just 2 2/3 innings in a loss to the Yankees on April 15. "After that [loss], I just committed to going after hitters and not pitching away from contact. The key is to get first-pitch strikes and leverage off of that."
After the 104-pitch outing by Williams, Scioscia went to his bullpen, which hasn't exactly been solid through 18 games this year.
Scott Downs, who has been the most effective reliever with 5 2/3 scoreless innings before Thursday, did not allow a run in the eighth inning and retired the only batter he faced in the ninth before Walden was brought in.
Walden, who recorded his first save last Friday with a scoreless ninth against the Orioles, immediately gave up a single to Upton.
Walden then surrendered the homer to the lefty-swinging Allen on a 2-2 pitch.
"Everything was going great there, and the bottom just came out," said Hunter, who spent a few minutes talking with Walden at his locker following the game. "When it rains, it pours. Hopefully, we can carry the good things over into [Cleveland]."
Chris Girandola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.