ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Mike Trout broke out of his slump in the biggest possible way Thursday night at Angel Stadium.
The Angels' centerfielder, struggling for nearly two weeks, slammed a walk-off three-run homer against Rays right-hander Brad Boxberger in the ninth inning, completing a wild comeback and giving the Angels a 6-5 win.
Trout was 7 for his last 50 until the homer, although he did reach base twice earlier in the game, once on a hit-by-pitch and once on an error by Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar. He has now struck out 52 times, the most in the major leagues. He is on pace to strike out 211 times, 12 shy of baseball's all-time record set in 2009 by Mark Reynolds.
But no matter: the Angels (22-18) are hotter than the Southern California weather, winners of seven of their last 10.
Young left-hander Tyler Skaggs started and couldn't escape the Rays' order the third time through. He allowed three runs in the sixth inning, hurt by a deflection by Angels third baseman Luis Jimenez, and then another run in the seventh on Brandon Guyer's first-career homer.
In all, Skaggs struck out five and walked one in six-plus innings, but allowed eight hits and five runs. He has finished six innings in seven of his eight starts this season.
The Angels won two challenges while hitting Thursday, but neither resulted in any runs.
In the fifth inning, Manager Mike Scioscia challenged an out call at second when Grant Green tried to stretch a single into a double. When it was reversed, the Angels had runners at second and third with one out, but they couldn't convert.
Then, in the seventh inning, Trout tried to tag from first on a deep fly out from Albert Pujols. He was called out at second and ruled safe after a Scioscia challenge, giving the Angels runners on second and third with two out, but again they couldn't convert.
The Angels are 6-4 on challenges this season.
Both Angel runs came in the sixth inning, when Howie Kendrick and C.J. Cron knocked two-out singles off Rays left-hander Erik Bedard and Erick Aybar slapped a ball under the glove of Tampa Bay first baseman James Loney, scoring Kendrick.
Raul Ibanez followed with a pinch-hit single to left for his 20th RBI of 2014 on his 16th hit.
In relief of Skaggs, right-handers Kevin Jepsen, Michael Morin and Fernando Salas (3-0) all pitched scoreless and hitless innings. Jepsen did walk two men, but that was it.
Morin, 23, has thrown eight consecutive scoreless frames to begin his big-league career.
CALHOUN SET FOR REHAB
His teammates were arriving at Angel Stadium's home clubhouse Thursday after a successful six-game trip, but Kole Calhoun was zipping up his bags and departing.
The Angels right fielder, out since April 15 because of a severe right ankle sprain, got the OK to head out on a minor league rehab assignment at Triple-A Salt Lake after running the bases successfully for a second straight day.
Calhoun will start Friday and likely play 4-5 games for the Bees, potentially returning to the majors Tuesday or Wednesday.
"He's ready to play," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We'll see how many at-bats he needs before he's starting to feel good, but it's encouraging. He made a lot of progress this last week."
Calhoun was the Angels' primary leadoff hitter before his injury. In his absence, Scioscia has tried a host of candidates, but he wouldn't commit to putting Calhoun back there upon his return.
"We'll see where he works in," Scioscia said. "We need a couple aspects of our lineup that are important. Obviously guys setting the table, but creating depth, too. We can look and see where we'll need him."
Calhoun said he was pleased with the progress of his recovery.
"It was said to be 4-6 weeks, and four weeks was Tuesday," Calhoun said. "It's something you don't want to deal with, but given the circumstances, I'm glad that this time has gone by now, and I'm getting closer to being back out there."
The Angels' other injured outfielder, Josh Hamilton, also took a sizable step forward Thursday by taking live batting practice for the first time.
The plan remains for Hamilton to begin a minor league rehab assignment May 23.
"He's kept himself as close as he could to staying in baseball shape with some of the drills that he's done," Scioscia said. "When he hits the ground running here and starts playing games, it shouldn't take him too long."
DE LA ROSA UPDATE
Back in the Angels' clubhouse was right-hander Dane De La Rosa, but not to pitch for the club.
The 31-year-old reliever, on the disabled list with what was originally termed shoulder irritation, had a setback during his minor league rehab over the weekend and received a cortisone shot in a tricky area near his right shoulder and collarbone Wednesday.
"It's a pain in the (rear), and you can quote me on that," De La Rosa said.
De La Rosa said he was only one more minor league appearance away from making his major league return. Then something flared up in the second inning of his Saturday outing, his fourth in Triple-A.
"The next day, I just felt a little too tight, and I decided to shut it down and do something quick to get the inflammation down," De La Rosa said.
Said Scioscia: "Up until that point, he had enough to pitch with us."
The cortisone immediately lessened the inflammation, according to De La Rosa, and he plans to play catch Friday.
Retiring MLB commissioner Bud Selig announced Thursday the formation of a succession committee to select him a replacement, and Angels owner Arte Moreno will be one of seven owners on the committee. ... Left-hander Sean Burnett (torn flexor tendon in left elbow) has thrown three rehab outings for Double-A Arkansas but remains several appearances away from returning to the majors. "He's getting better every time he pitches," Scioscia said.
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