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Angels' bullpen blows lead in 6-4 loss to White Sox

Angels take a 4-1 advantage into the late innings, but Fernando Rodney (eighth), Jordan Walden (ninth) and Kevin Jepsen (10th) can't get the job done, and Chicago pulls off a web gem to end it.

May 11, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Chicago's Adam Dunn, right, beats the tag of Angels catcher Hank Conger to score the game's final run in the 10th inning of the Angels' 6-4 loss Wednesday.
Chicago's Adam Dunn, right, beats the tag of Angels catcher Hank Conger… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

The bullpen failed to protect a three-run, eighth-inning lead Wednesday night, and then things got really ugly for the Angels in extra innings.

Reliever Kevin Jepsen, on the first pitch of an intentional walk to Paul Konerko with runners on second and third in the top of the 10th, threw a ball over the head of catcher Hank Conger and to the backstop, allowing the go-ahead run to score.

The Chicago White Sox tacked on another run on Brent Lillibridge's sacrifice fly to center for a 6-4 victory in Angel Stadium and closed the game with a remarkable defensive play in the bottom of the 10th.

With two out, Konerko, the White Sox first baseman, fielded Torii Hunter's bunt with his bare hand and flipped the ball behind his back to reliever Mark Thornton, who snatched the ball with his bare hand and beat Hunter to the bag.

Jepsen, recalled from triple-A Salt Lake earlier Wednesday, got Juan Pierre to ground out to open the 10th, but Alexei Ramirez singled, and Adam Dunn, who homered in the third, doubled to left for his fourth hit of the game.

The inning only deteriorated from there for Jepsen, who said of his wild pitch, "I threw it about 10 feet too high. There was no reason, it didn't slip. I just sailed it. I've never done anything like that before."

Setup man Fernando Rodney gave up a run and two hits in the eighth, but the Angels caught a huge break when Ramirez was called for batter's interference as Omar Vizquel and Pierre tried to pull off a double steal.

So instead of being on the ropes, the Angels still had a 4-2 lead.

But Jordan Walden, the rookie closer who converted six of his first seven save opportunities, couldn't hold it in the ninth.

Dunn opened with a walk, Carlos Quentin hit a one-out single, and A.J. Pierzynski singled to center for a run, his fourth hit.

Alex Rios walked, both runners advanced on a wild pitch, and Vizquel, who hit an RBI double in the eighth, drove a sacrifice fly to center for a 4-4 tie.

Hunter drove in two runs with a triple in the first and a single to cap a two-run third that included Peter Bourjos' leadoff triple and Erick Aybar's RBI single.

The Angels made it 4-1 in the sixth when Howie Kendrick singled with two outs, stole second and scored on Alberto Callaspo's single.

Angels starter Tyler Chatwood pitched well enough to win, giving up one run and eight hits in 61/3 innings, walking three and striking out none, but the right-hander wound up with a no-decision.

White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy made his first start since last July 6, when he suffered a torn muscle in the back of his throwing shoulder pitching against the Angels. The right-hander gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings, striking out four.

Roster move

Jepsen filled the roster spot of reliever Francisco Rodriguez, who was placed on the disabled list because of a shoulder injury.

An MRI test revealed what Rodriguez called "labrum damage," but the right-hander will probably pass up surgery in favor of a rehabilitation program.

"I don't know how long I'm going to be out," Rodriguez said. "It could be two weeks, it could be two months."

Jepsen was the team's primary setup man in 2009 and a key reliever in 2010, but he struggled so much this season, going 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in his first five appearances, the Angels demoted him to Salt Lake on April 10.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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