Angels' bullpen lets another one slip away, 5-4
The Angels' bullpen struggles continued Sunday when Rich Thompson and Hisanori Takahashi failed to retire the first four batters they faced, allowing the Texas Rangers to push home the deciding run in a 5-4 victory.
Thompson, who started the day having gotten the leadoff man in all 13 of his appearances this season, walked Adrian Beltre and David Murphy to start the eighth inning. Mike Napoli followed, and though he was badly fooled on a two-strike pitch, he managed to dunk a single into right field to load the bases.
Takahashi was then called in to face Chris Davis, who greeted him with an equally unimpressive single to right to score Beltre. Takahashi got the next two outs and Kevin Jepsen recorded the third out, leaving the bases loaded, but by then the damage had been done.
Rangers closer Neftali Felix then closed out the win, getting the final two outs when Alberto Callaspo struck out and Napoli threw out Howie Kendrick at second base on a blown hit-and-run play.
And that wasted another big game by Erick Aybar, who had three hits -- including his second homer in three days -- and drove in three runs.
He now has a career-high 13-game hitting streak and his average is .357 since coming off the disabled list 3 1/2 weeks ago. Sunday he fell a triple shy of hitting for the cycle, doubling to help the Angels take a 1-0 lead in the first inning, lining a solo homer to center in the fifth and then singling in two runs to tie the score, 4-4, in the sixth.
In the eighth inning, with the go-ahead run at second base, the Rangers walked Aybar intentionally. He was the only Angel with multiple hits though Kendrick, Callaspo, Torii Hunter and Mark Trumbo each reached base twice on a single and walk. The Angels left 11 men on base.
Starting pitcher Ervin Santana gave the Angels seven strong innings, making only a pair of mistakes -- but they were costly ones. The first came in the third inning when Beltre hit a two-out, three-run homer to give Texas a 3-1 lead. An inning later Davis extended that lead with a solo home run.
Santana kept the deficit there, though, working out of jams in the fifth and seventh innings before turning the game over to the bullpen.
-- Kevin Baxter, reporting from Arlington, Texas
Photo: Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick takes the throw as Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus slides safely into second base with a steal on Sunday. Credit: Jim Cowsert / US Presswire