MINNEAPOLIS — Scott Downs hobbled out of the visiting clubhouse on crutches Thursday, symbolic of an Angels bullpen that was battered and bruised in a 10-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
With veteran right-handers LaTroy Hawkins and Jason Isringhausen unavailable because they were sore after pitching the night before, Hisanori Takahashi, Kevin Jepsen and Rich Thompson were tagged for seven runs and 10 hits as the Angels coughed up a six-run, fifth-inning lead.
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 Seattle and lost, 10-7.
"We know we're better than how we're playing right now," said Angels starter Dan Haren, who has given up 20 hits in 10 innings this season. "It's only six games, and we have 156 games left, so we're not going to dwell too much on this. We would liked to have started better, but we'll be fine."
The Angels looked fine when they scored five runs in the second inning Thursday. Mark Trumbo crushed a solo home run, Peter Bourjos hit a run-scoring double and Maicer Izturis had a two-run single. Trumbo walked, stole second and scored on Vernon Wells' double for a 6-0 lead in the fifth.
But in the bottom of the fifth, Joe Mauer followed singles by Denard Span and Jamey Carroll with a three-run homer to right, and things really soured for the Angels in the seventh.
Jepsen, who got Justin Morneau to fly to left with the bases loaded to end the sixth, gave up a leadoff homer to Josh Willingham. Chris Parmelee doubled, and Danny Valencia singled and took second when Torii Hunter overthrew the cutoff man from right field.
Ben Revere flied to left, the runners holding, and Luke Hughes, facing Downs, followed with a sacrifice fly to deep left-center, making it 6-5.
Span followed with a slow roller between the mound and first. Albert Pujols grabbed the ball with his bare hand and flipped to Downs, but the pitcher twisted his right ankle and was stepped on by Span.
The ball squirted out of Downs' glove for an infield single, and Valencia scored to tie it at 6-6. Downs left the game because of a bruised ankle.
The Angels took a 7-6 lead in the eighth when Wells singled, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Bourjos' two-out single.
But Thompson gave up a leadoff single to Mauer in the bottom of the eighth, Justin Morneau crushed a two-run homer to right and the Twins tacked on two more runs on a double by Valencia and a single by Hughes for a 10-7 lead.
The Angels scored twice in the ninth, but Minnesota closer Matt Capps retired Alberto Callaspo and Chris Iannetta on ground balls to end the 3-hour 44-minute game.
Howie Kendrick, Pujols and Hunter combined to go two for 14 with two strikeouts. X-rays on the right ankle of Downs, the team's best reliever, were negative. He will undergo an MRI test in New York on Friday to determine whether he suffered ligament damage.
The Angels' bullpen probably will need some reinforcements this weekend — perhaps right-hander Trevor Bell from triple A.
"That's baseball; it's going to happen," Downs said. "It wasn't fun to watch, but we have to bounce back."