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Angels' Justin Anderson unable to close out Blue Jays

He had given up a potentially damaging leadoff single but now suddenly had two outs and the bases empty.

Justin Anderson knew he had the game as squarely in his right hand as the baseball itself.

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“I’m like, ‘OK, two outs, let’s get out of this and let the boys go hit,’ ” the Angels reliever said. “It’s unfortunate it happened like that.”

What happened Saturday was a two-out, three-run homer by Steve Pearce on Anderson’s fifth consecutive slider during the game-deciding at-bat in the ninth inning.

Pearce’s shot — the first home run given up by Anderson since May 11 — broke a tie and gave Toronto a 4-1 victory.

“They put together some pretty good at-bats there, obviously,” Anderson said. “That was a dog fight.”

The inning began with a single by Russell Martin. Anderson then retired Randal Grichuk on a fly ball to left.

With Aledmys Diaz batting, Martin broke for second on a hit-and-run and was thrown out by catcher Jose Briceno, the Angels just like that one out away from reaching the bottom of the ninth tied.

But up 1-2 on Diaz, Anderson was unable to secure strike three and instead gave up a single to the Blue Jays shortstop.

“He had two outs, nobody on and he couldn’t finish Diaz off,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “Those guys, give them credit, they put some hits together late in the game.”

After walking Devon Travis, Anderson and Pearce battled to a 2-2 count before Pearce lined the fateful slider just inside the left-field foul pole.

“I don’t know if he knew it was coming or not, but he was ready to go,” Anderson said. “Just can’t do that right there.”

The pitch was the 28th of the inning for the rookie right-hander. He has had only three appearances in which he has thrown more pitches.

Scioscia said Anderson’s continued development will include becoming more economical, something he said is not uncommon for young power pitchers.

“That does take a lot out of you,” Scioscia said. “That’s where we are right now with Justin. I think he will become more effective and more efficient as he starts to make some footprints.”

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