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TORONTO 5, ANGELS 4

It's another rough outing for Angels' Sean O'Sullivan

The right-hander could be sent to the minors after getting rocked in the first inning by the Blue Jays. He has struggled in four straight starts.

August 22, 2009|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

TORONTO — Sean O'Sullivan predicts that the "rough patch" he's been in for four starts now "will be a good character-builder for me," but if there is any construction of the 21-year-old right-hander's psyche, it will most assuredly take place at triple-A Salt Lake.

O'Sullivan was rocked for four runs and four hits in the first inning and pulled after one batter in the second Friday night, and the Toronto Blue Jays held on for a 5-4 victory in the Rogers Centre, handing the Angels their second straight loss.

Rookie left-hander Marc Rzepczynski, a former Anaheim Servite High and UC Riverside standout who was a fifth-round pick of the Blue Jays in 2007, limited the Angels to one run and three hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out six and walking one for the win.

Mike Napoli's three-run home run in the ninth trimmed Toronto's lead to 5-4, but Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill's spectacular diving catch of Juan Rivera's liner right before Napoli came up prevented the Angels from tying the score on the homer.

Howie Kendrick doubled with two outs, but pinch-hitter Bobby Abreu grounded out to first to end the game.

O'Sullivan was 3-0 with a 3.72 earned-run average in his first five big league starts, but he has given up 20 earned runs and 23 hits, including seven home runs, in 14 2/3 innings of his last four starts, two losses and two no-decisions.

With Joe Saunders (shoulder tightness) in line to be activated next week, O'Sullivan will likely be sent back to Salt Lake, with Saunders taking his spot and Trevor Bell remaining in the rotation.

Matt Palmer and Jose Arredondo combined to allow just one run in seven innings Friday night, which will probably force the Angels to call up a pitcher to reinforce their bullpen today.

"We're going to look at a couple things," Manager Mike Scioscia said, when asked if O'Sullivan would get another start.

Translation: O'Sullivan is a probably a goner.

"When Sean was pitching well early, he was really commanding the zone with his fastball, getting ahead of hitters -- he was in control," Scioscia said. "The last few games, instead of being the tiger, he's got the tiger by the tail.

"He's falling behind way too many hitters . . . and guys have been getting good looks off him. He has a good arm and good stuff. Experience is going to be the best teacher.

"Hopefully, he'll pick up the pieces and move forward."

Toronto batted around in the first, an inning O'Sullivan needed 44 pitches to complete. Aaron Hill hit a one-out home run to left, and with two out, Toronto put the next five batters on base.

Lyle Overbay singled, Vernon Wells hit an RBI double to left-center, Travis Snider and Randy Ruiz walked, and Jose Bautista hit a two-run single to center.

O'Sullivan walked Marco Scutaro to open the second, and out he came.

"I've put people in good hitting counts, and I've been unable to put guys away," O'Sullivan said. "My feel has been a little off."

Rzepczynski's was right on.

Mixing a fastball that didn't top 88 mph with his well-placed sliders and dive-bombing changeups, Rzepczynski (pronounced zep-CHIN-ski) avoided the barrels of Angels bats for most of the night.

"He was as billed," Scioscia said. "He had good life and movement on his fastball, he got his slider under a lot of right-handed swings, he moved the ball around and threw a lot of strikes. He really pitched well."

It was a win that improved Rzepczynski to 2-3 but left the 23-year-old who grew up in Yorba Linda a little conflicted.

"I grew up watching the Angels, and I think they've got a great organization, so it was good beating the hometown team," Rzepczynski said.

"But some of my buddies were like, 'We don't want to root for you,' because they're die-hard Angels fans. I'll have to give them a call and say I'm sorry I beat them."

There was some consolation for Angels fans.

Texas lost to Tampa Bay, so the Angels maintained their 5 1/2 -game lead over the Rangers in the American League West.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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