Angel Stadium turned into the Twilight Zone, a perplexing place where a routine fly ball dropped out of the evening sky and hit the ground, allowing the winning run to score; where a mediocre pitcher shut down one of baseball's hottest teams, and where an Angel pitcher threw the "best game of my career" and still lost.
All these oddities and more befell the Angels on Wednesday, as Toronto right-hander Justin Miller, relying almost exclusively on changeups and soft curves that usually registered in the 77-mph range, out-dueled right-hander Kelvim Escobar in the Blue Jays' 1-0 victory in front of 36,905 in Angel Stadium.
The game's only run scored when Angel right fielder Vladimir Guerrero lost Carlos Delgado's first-inning fly ball in the dusk.
The Angels, who averaged 6.6 runs in their previous 21 games, managed two hits, singles by Guerrero in the fourth inning and Adam Kennedy in the eighth.
Escobar (9-10) gave up the one run on five hits, he had a career-high 12 strikeouts and walked only one. Of his 115 pitches, 74 were strikes. But once again, the Angels provided no support. They averaged 3.86 runs in Escobar's first 27 starts. They have been shut out seven times this season, four times in Escobar's starts.
"That was one of the best-pitched games I've ever seen, and he lost," Angel pitcher Jarrod Washburn said. "It was a great game and a stupid game, all in one."
Making the loss even tougher to swallow was the out-of-town scoreboard, where the Boston Red Sox posted a three-run lead over Oakland in the first inning and a seven-run lead in the third inning en route to a victory over the A's.
Had the Angels won Wednesday, they would have moved within a half-game of the Athletics in the American League West, with a chance to pull even with the A's tonight. Instead, they remain 1 1/2 games behind Oakland and fell five games behind Boston in the wild-card race.
"It would have been really nice to get a win today, knowing what Oakland was doing for most of the game," Kennedy said.
Even more disturbing to Angel left fielder Jose Guillen was the decision by an Angel Stadium scoreboard operator to zoom in on the Boston-Oakland score and blow it up on the big-screen video board during the game.
"It looked like we were worried more about the Boston-Oakland game instead of taking care of business here," Guillen said. "I saw it three times. Every time they showed it, all the players are like, 'What's going on?' Tell me the reason they put that up there? We lost the game. They shouldn't have done that. If we're winning, it's a different story, but we lost."
The Angels had no answers for Miller, the right-hander who was 1-2 with a 7.68 earned-run average in seven games since returning from the disabled list in early August and 1-1 with a 9.45 ERA in his last three starts.
Miller retired 11 in a row to start the game before Guerrero lined a clean single to right with two out in the fourth. Only one Angel reached third base -- Troy Glaus in the fifth with two out -- but Bengie Molina grounded out to end the inning.
"He pitched backward," Angel Manager Mike Scioscia said. "I don't think he did anything special, but he kept us off balance by throwing the breaking ball in fastball counts, and we didn't adjust as well as we usually do. We absolutely should have pressured him more than we did."
The Blue Jay run was a fluke. The diving Kennedy nicked Orlando Hudson's one-out grounder to the hole, slowing it enough to turn a single into a double, and Delgado hit a two-out fly ball to right-center that Guerrero lost in the twilight.
Garret Anderson didn't give much chase from center field, and Kennedy almost got a glove on the ball after a lengthy run from his second-base spot, but the ball dropped for a double.
"That time of night, it's tough to see," Angel shortstop David Eckstein said. "That happens a lot here. Once the ball gets above the stadium and it's not dark enough, the ball is the same color of the sky."