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Angels' bullpen can't protect lead in 5-3 loss to Athletics

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Kevin Jepsen blows a save opportunity after starter Dan Haren holds Oakland to one run over 6 2/3 innings.

April 17, 2012|By Lance Pugmire

Earlier Tuesday, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia dismissed a question about the effectiveness of starting pitcher Dan Haren, who had given up 20 combined hits in his first two short starts.

If he was worried about the consistent Haren, Scioscia said, his team had a lot of problems.

Haren redeemed the faith Tuesday night, but other problems mounted.

An inning after the starter departed with a one-run lead, relievers Kevin Jepsen and David Carpenter failed to retire five consecutive Oakland Athletics and the visitors rallied with a four-run eighth inning to beat the Angels, 5-3, at Angel Stadium.

The Angels bullpen is 0-3, and after the bitter eighth its earned-run average was a staggering 5.90 with 32 hits and 10 walks given up in 29 innings.

Certainly, there's discomfort elsewhere about Mark Trumbo's difficulty playing third base and the fact that Albert Pujols hasn't homered through 11 games.

But the relievers' ineffectiveness ranks as the most problematic point for the 4-7 team that now trails the Texas Rangers by five games in the American League West.

"We need to be playing better; we can't be giving away games," Haren said after giving up one run in 62/3 innings. "You can only say it's early for so long."

Haren did his part against an Oakland lineup that started the night with no one batting better than .250, scattering five hits and exiting with a 2-1 lead after Torii Hunter singled home Kendrys Morales in the sixth.

Scioscia removed Haren after 85 pitches because Daric Barton stepped to the plate with two Oakland teammates on base after slugging a solo home run off a Haren cut fastball in the fifth inning.

"The competitor in me wants to stay in the game," Haren said. "Not my call."

Jepsen struck out the first batter he faced, but then walked No. 9 batter Cliff Pennington and leadoff man Jemile Weeks to prompt a mound visit by pitching coach Mike Butcher.

Coco Crisp laced the first pitch for a tying single to centerfield and Josh Reddick, on a 1-and-2 pitch, struck a go-ahead, ground-rule double to right field to cause Jepsen's exit.

"[Jepsen] was our best chance to get out of the inning," Scioscia said. "We had chances to hold the lead and that's critical for our guys.

"Kevin's stuff is there. Someone has to be part of that back-end pyramid. We need that consistency. We need that bullpen ? to hold leads."

Down 3-2, the Angels summoned Carpenter, a non-roster invitee to spring training brought from the minor leagues Friday.

Carpenter gave up a two-run single to cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes.

The game was tight because A's minor league call-up Tyson Ross matched Haren in zeros through four innings, letting Hunter hit the only ball to the outfield (a second-inning single) before Morales stroked a single to right in the fourth.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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