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Angels hope there's relief in sight

Mike Carp hits a two-run double off Scott Downs in the eighth inning to give Seattle a 2-1 victory and Angels miss a chance to gain ground..

August 31, 2011|By Kevin Baxter

The Angels will make some moves to address their shallow bullpen Thursday morning. Not in the form of a trade; they have tried and failed at that.

Instead, the Angels are calling up reserves from the minor leagues. But the cavalry — such as it is — might be arriving too late. That's because the bullpen gave up another late lead Wednesday, with Mike Carp's two-run, two-out double against Scott Downs lifting the Seattle Mariners to a 2-1 win that cost the Angels a chance to gain ground on the Texas Rangers in the American League West race.

"The guys that are coming right now … we're going to look at a couple of things that could have an impact," Manager Mike Scioscia said.

For the Angels' sake, let's hope he means a positive impact. Because that isn't necessarily what he's getting from his relievers right now.

The Angels' bullpen has 22 losses this season; only two AL teams have more.

As a result, Downs is one of the few relievers Scioscia has trust in. And with reason: The left-hander has given up one earned run in the last month.

He didn't give up another Wednesday, because both Mariners runs were charged to Dan Haren (13-8), who was within four outs of his third shutout of the season when he gave up two-out singles to Franklin Gutierrez and Dustin Ackley in the eighth.

Scioscia then waved in Downs, whom Carp greeted by driving a 2-1 sinker to the base of the wall in left-center.

"Scotty just didn't make the pitch where he wanted. And that was the eighth inning," Scioscia said. "You're not going to get everybody out, but he's come about as close as any pitcher we've seen in a while."

Especially those in the Angels bullpen, where every reliever except Downs, closer Jordan Walden and Rich Thompson had either two losses or an ERA above 3.60 in August.

For most of the night it didn't look like Haren wouldn't need his bullpen, as he gave up a second-inning double to Kyle Seager, then retired 15 batters in a row before Seattle loaded the bases with two out in the seventh inning.

Haren escaped that jam by getting Brendan Ryan on a comebacker. But after getting two quick outs in the eighth, he got in trouble again and Scioscia went out to get him. Four pitches later the lead — and the win — were gone.

"I've had a couple of heartbreakers," Haren said. "I go out there and I do what I can. It's a tough loss for the team."

Haren was quick to absolve Downs while giving credit to Seattle starter Felix Hernandez (13-11), who held the Angels to just a third-inning run on Mike Trout's broken-bat single to center, a sacrifice bunt and Howie Kendrick's two-out single to left.

Hernandez then went on a streak of his own, retiring 16 of the final 17 batters, getting Mark Trumbo for the final out on a fly ball that fell a couple of feet shy of the wall in right.

"You have to tip your cap to Felix," Haren said. "He's one of the best in the game. We did have some opportunities."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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