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Angels are running out of time after 3-2 loss to Toronto

They drop five games behind first-place Texas in the American League West race with nine games to play, and they fall 41/2 games behind in wild-card chase.

September 19, 2011|By Kevin Baxter

Reporting from Toronto -- Torii Hunter sat in front of his locker in the middle of the Angels' quiet clubhouse Monday night, head down and staring at the floor.

His desperate throw a few minutes earlier had sailed wide of the plate, allowing Mike McCoy to slide home with the 10th-inning run that had given the Toronto Blue Jays a 3-2 victory and pushed the Angels another half a game back in two playoff races that are entering the homestretch.

"We really wanted this game," Hunter said.

At a corner locker near the door, pitcher Jerome Williams dressed slowly. His third brilliant start in the last month had been undone by his error, which gave Toronto its first two runs and set up the extra inning.

"We get another chance tomorrow," he said, his voice barely above a whisper.

The Angels, however, are running out of tomorrows. Monday's loss, their fifth in eight games, dropped the Angels five games behind idle Texas in the American League West, their largest deficit in a month.

In the wild-card race, Boston's split of a doubleheader with Baltimore increased its lead to 4½ games over the Angels with nine games to play.

"At this point we need help," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "The bottom line is we have to win games. You can analyze any route that has reaching our goal to get to the playoffs and it has us winning games. So that's what we need to do."

They couldn't quite pull that off Monday, largely because their defense — which started the game with the third-best fielding percentage in the league — let them down at crucial times, leading to three unearned runs. And their offense consisted of two swings, with home runs by Hunter and Mark Trumbo accounting for all of the scoring.

The first mistake came in the fourth inning when Williams, pitching with a 1-0 lead, speared Kelly Johnson's bouncer up the middle with his bare hand and turned to throw to second base. But he hadn't set his feet and the ball sailed, resulting in an error instead of a double play.

Two outs later, J.P. Arencibia grounded a single into right field to put the Blue Jays up, 2-1.

Trumbo's 28th home run tied the score in the fifth inning, and terrific plays by Trumbo and Howie Kendrick and a splendid throw from right field by Hunter, cutting down a runner at second base, kept it that way until the 10th.

McCoy started the winning rally by reaching on a grounder that ran up Erick Aybar's arm for an error. Eric Thames singled him to second base, but the Angels still had a chance to get out of the inning when Jose Bautista followed with a potential double-play grounder to third base.

Before Monday, only two teams in the majors had turned more double plays than the Angels, but they didn't get this one, with Maicer Izturis throwing wide to second base, getting only one out.

With the winning run at third base, the Angels brought the infield in and stationed Hunter in the hole between first base and second base, which is where Adam Lind hit the ball. With McCoy running on contact, Hunter had to rush his throw home and it was off the mark.

"We just didn't quite get enough done at the end," Scioscia said. "Three unearned runs tonight and that's the ballgame."

And, maybe, the season as well.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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