OAKLAND — Zack Greinke was obtained for an Angels playoff push, but after an outing he described as perhaps his "worst day of control," that mission is further muddied.
His replacement, LaTroy Hawkins, was brought to Anaheim to stabilize the bullpen, but his afternoon Wednesday was spoiled because "I couldn't make a pitch I needed to."
So despite hitting a season-high five home runs, the Angels lost to the Oakland Athletics, 9-8, falling 11/2 games off their division rivals' pace for the American League's final wild-card spot.
"With five homers, you've got to find a way to win that game," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Things have got to stabilize."
The question is, will they?
The bullpen has fallen into near ruin over a 10-game trip, the journey closed with a staggering 10.54 earned-run average and the AL lead with 17 blown saves.
"We're not holding down the fort very well," Hawkins, 39, said.
The Athletics scored five sixth-inning runs against Hawkins (2-3) to take a 9-5 lead.
With Greinke removed after 103 pitches, Hawkins walked the leadoff batter and Coco Crisp followed with a run-scoring double.
Hawkins then walked another batter and gave up a two-out single to cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes. Then came a two-run home run to left field by Chris Carter.
"Pretty ugly," Hawkins said.
The Angels hit 23 home runs on the trip and return home with a 4-6 record.
"The guys played good and backed me," said Greinke, who hasn't won in his three Angels starts since being traded by Milwaukee and in eight starts overall, dating to June 27.
Greinke walked five batters and gave up six hits. His pitch count reached 60 in the second inning, when Oakland sent 10 men to the plate, including five on walks, in a four-run frame.
George Kottaras followed Greinke's leadoff walk to Carter in the inning with a home run to center field. Greinke then walked the bases loaded and gave up run-scoring singles to Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick.
"Every two-seamer was into the ground, every four-seamer was head high," Greinke said. "It just wasn't working … really weird."
Greinke settled down while the Angels rallied with home runs against hard-throwing rookie Dan Straily.
Making his second start with Oakland after leading the minor leagues in strikeouts, Straily, 23, gave up a solo home run to catcher Chris Iannetta in the third inning.
In the fifth, Torii Hunter hit a solo home run. Mark Trumbo singled with two out to bring up Kendrys Morales, who hit his second home run of the game, both against Straily, to put the Angels ahead, 5-4. It was Morales' 14th home run.
Trumbo hit his 29th home run in the seventh.
The Angels got three hits against closer Ryan Cook in the ninth inning, including a two-run single by Howie Kendrick, but Erick Aybar grounded out to shortstop to end the game with Kendrick at second base.