Pittsburgh Pirates' Pedro Alvarez has hit a home run in four consecutive… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
Over the course of six months and 162 baseball games, wins and losses can blend together, with few standing out as more memorable or forgettable than any other.
That won't be the case with the Angels' 10-9 loss in 10 innings to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday at Angel Stadium. This one was an epic that lasted nearly four hours, featuring a sterling performance by Angels starter Joe Blanton, clutch hitting by both teams and 10 runs in the final two innings, when both bullpens struggled.
And fittingly it went down to the final pitch, with Mike Trout striking out with the tying and winning runs in scoring position.
"It stings right now," said Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen, who gave up four runs in the span of six batters in the 10th to take the loss. "We have an off day [Monday], which definitely helps. Learn from this one and try not to make the same mistakes."
One thing the Angels definitely learned Sunday is a game's not over until it's over — although this one was about as close to over as you can get. With Blanton and reliever Scott Downs combining to retire 16 consecutive batters, the Angels went to the ninth inning with a 6-3 lead and closer Ernesto Frieri on the mound.
"The way we set the game up was, go into the ninth inning with the lead to get to your closer," said Manager Mike Scioscia, whose team had lost only once in 30 games when leading after eight innings.
And Frieri hadn't blown a save since April, retiring the last 22 batters he had faced.
But this time he walked the first batter and gave up a single to the next. By the time the dust settled, he had given up a pair of two-out, two-strike singles to tie the score.
So Scioscia went to Jepsen, who had given up one earned run in the last 2 1/2 months.
"For us as players, we don't look at that stuff," said Jepsen, who faced reporters after Frieri slipped away. "We are kind of in the day. We have to go out and get our job done.
"Today we didn't."
After getting the final out in the ninth, Jepsen gave up a double and two walks to load the bases in the 10th. Travis Snider unloaded them with a single to left that skipped past J.B. Shuck to the wall. Russell Martin, who entered the game in the ninth as a pinch-hitter, drove in the Pirates' final run two batters later.
That gave Pirates closer Jason Grilli — the major league's co-leader in saves with 26 — a four-run lead to work with, which seemed pretty safe since he hadn't given up more than one run in a game this season. Seven batters later most of that lead was gone and Trout was at the plate.
But after two fouls, Grilli got Trout swinging at a 1-2 pitch, making the Pirates the first team to sweep an interleague series from the Angels at home in 13 seasons. And it marked the Pirates' first road sweep of an American League team in franchise history.
"This is one that got away from us," Scioscia said. "At the end we just couldn't close that door and get it done."