Angels reliever Scott Downs, left, can't handle the throw to first… (Jim Mone / Associated Press )
MINNEAPOLIS — The Angels failed to hold a six-run, fifth-inning lead and a one-run, eighth-inning lead Thursday as the Minnesota Twins roared back for three runs in the seventh and four in the eighth for a 10-9 victory in Target Field.
The last time the Angels surrendered a six-run lead and lost was on May 14, 1994, when they had a 7-0 lead against the Seattle Mariners and lost, 10-7.
After blowing the six-run lead and losing one of their top relievers to injury, the Angels took a 7-6 lead in the top of the eighth when Vernon Wells singled, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Peter Bourjos’ two-out single to left field.
But Angels reliever Rich Thompson, who struck out Jamey Carroll with the bases loaded to end the seventh, gave up a leadoff single to Joe Mauer in the bottom of the eighth.
Justin Morneau then crushed a ball into the upper deck in right field for a two-run homer that traveled an estimated 420 feet and gave the Twins an 8-7 lead. Josh Willingham singled, Danny Valencia hit a one-out, run-scoring double to left to make it 9-7, and Luke Hughes hit an RBI single to left to make it 10-7.
Singles by Albert Pujols, Torii Hunter and Mark Trumbo trimmed the lead to 10-8 in the top of the ninth. Wells grounded into a fielder’s choice, and Alberto Callaspo grounded out to score Hunter to make it 10-9.
Wells took second on Callaspo’s groundout, but Twins closer Matt Capps retired Chris Iannetta on a slow roller to third to end the three-hour, 44-minute game.
The Angels led, 6-3, going into the seventh after right-hander Kevin Jepsen relieved left-hander Hisanori Takahashi with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth and retired Morneau on a fly ball to left field.
But Jepsen crumbled in the seventh, giving up a leadoff home run to Willingham — the fourth homer of the season for the Twins left fielder—and a double to Chris Parmelee.
Valencia singled to right, Parmelee holding at third, but Hunter overthrew the cut-off man, allowing Valencia to take second.
Ben Revere flied to left, the runners holding, and Hughes, facing left-hander Scott Downs, followed with a sacrifice fly to deep left-center field, the Angels avoiding disaster when Bourjos, the center fielder, held onto the ball as Wells, the left fielder, ran into him.
Leadoff batter Denard Span followed with a slow roller between the mound and first. Pujols, the Angels first baseman, grabbed the ball with his bare hand and flipped to Downs, but the pitcher twisted his right ankle while reaching for the bag and was tripped up by Span.
The ball squirted out of Downs’ glove for an infield single that tied the score, 6-6, and knocked Downs out of the game with a bruised ankle. Span stole second, but Thompson struck out Carroll to end the inning.
As they did in their season-opening win over Kansas City, the Angels bunched most of their offense into one inning, batting around during a five-run second off Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano.
Trumbo, starting at designated hitter, got things rolling with a prodigious leadoff home run off the back of the second deck in left-center field.
Callaspo and Bobby Wilson singled with one out, and Bourjos hit an RBI double to left-center. Maicer Izturis, making his first start of the season, followed with a two-run single to center that made it 4-0.
Howie Kendrick walked, and Izturis scored when Mauer’s throw to second on the back end of a double steal bounced into center field for an error. Trumbo also sparked a short rally in the fifth, drawing a two-out walk, stealing second and scoring on Wells’ double to left for a 6-0 lead.
Angels starter Dan Haren was not especially sharp, allowing three runs and nine hits, including Mauer’s three-run homer in the fifth.
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