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Bullpen lets Angels down again

April 2, 2011 |  1:11 pm

Torii-hunter_350 The Angels' bullpen woes continued Saturday when Kevin Jepsen failed to protect an eighth-inning lead in a 5-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

Jepsen gave up two runs and four hits, the final two run-scoring singles by Matt Treanor and Chris Getz. Royals closer Joakim Soria then came on to retire the side in order in the top of the ninth to earn the save.

The Angels' third bullpen meltdown in as many days wasted an 11-hit offensive attack led by Torii Hunter, who slugged his second long home run of the season. All nine Angels' batters reached base at least once.

Hunter got the offense started with a one-out homer to left in the fourth inning, giving the Angels their first run in 12 innings. The blast, which bounced off the facing of the second deck above the left-field fountains, was estimated to have traveled 437 feet.

The Royals answered with two runs in the fifth, the first scoring on Getz's infield grounder and the second on a fielder's choice. But the Angels retook the lead an inning later on run-scoring singles by Vernon Wells and Alberto Callaspo and a fielder's choice grounder.

That looked to be enough support for a shaky Ervin Santana, who gave the Royals their third run when he bounced a two-strike, two-out pitch to Jeff Francoeur in the sixth, allowing Billy Butler to score from third when the wild pitch got past catcher Bobby Wilson. Santana, who struck out six in 6 2/3 innings, was also bailed out by center fielder Peter Bourjos, who saved two runs with a splendid over-the-shoulder catch on the run in the seventh.

That would be the last out Santana would get, though. And after Hisanori Takahashi came out to end the threat, striking out Alex Gordon with the tying run in scoring position, the Angels' luck ran out after they turned to Jepsen to start the eighth. With one out, two on and the Angels still leading 4-3, Wilson Betemit hit a ball up the middle that second baseman Maicer Izturis made a diving stop. He flipped the ball to shortstop Erick Aybar coming across the bag for the second out but Aybar's throw to first was high, keeping the inning alive for Treanor and Getz.

-- Kevin Baxter, reporting Kansas City, Mo.

Photo: Angels right fielder Torii Hunter watches his solo home run in the fourth inning Saturday at Kansas City. Credit: Orlin Wagner / Associated Press