Angels' bats cool off in loss to White Sox


We interrupt this offensive onslaught to bring you a dose of reality for the Angels: Their booming bats came tumbling back to Earth on Tuesday night, and so did one of their blooming bullpen arms.

After amassing 35 runs and 52 hits in a three-game weekend sweep of Minnesota, the Angels marked Vladimir Guerrero's return with only five hits in a 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox in U.S. Cellular Field.

Jayson Nix hit a two-out, ninth-inning double to left-center off reliever Kevin Jepsen, and Scott Podsednik followed with a walk-off single to deep right-center, handing the Angels only their fourth loss in 21 games.

The Angels drew seven walks, including five in 2 2/3 innings off starter Jose Contreras, who gave up three runs.

But they mustered only one run and two hits in four innings off reliever D.J. Carrasco and failed to reach double figures in hits for only the fourth time in 21 games.

"You know it's going to come to an end," said pitcher John Lackey, who gave up four runs -- three earned -- and five hits in eight innings, striking out seven. "You can't do that every night."

Nor can the Angels expect their young relievers to be perfect every night. Jepsen had emerged as an eighth-inning stopper, giving up two earned runs in 13 1/3 innings of his previous 13 games, but he made two glaring mistakes Tuesday.

The first was a 1-and-2 slider to Nix, a pitch "that should be nowhere near the plate," Jepsen said. "With no one on base, I need to bury that pitch. It should be a swing and a miss or a ball. I left it out over the plate."

The next was an 0-and-1 slider to Podsednik that also was up and over the plate.

"With first base open and a right-hander on deck, that should be a borderline strike or a ball," Jepsen said. "You want to go after him, but you want to be smart about it. You want him to chase."

Pitch selection wasn't the problem, Jepsen said.

"It's tough to second-guess, because I could throw the same pitches in better locations and get a popup or a ground ball," Jepsen said. "I threw the ball where I didn't want it, and it was game over."

Podsednik also burned the Angels in the seventh, popping up a two-out slap-and-run attempt that floated down the line in shallow left for a double. He scored on Gordon Beckham's single to left to tie the score, 4-4.

Does Lackey, who is 4-0 with a 1.86 earned-run average in his last five starts, see that kind of swing much?

"Only in softball, I guess," he said. "It was effective. He was pulling the bat back like a bunt. He put it in a good spot."

The Angels had ended a 3-3 tie in the fifth when Chone Figgins walked, took third on Maicer Izturis' single to right and scored on a sacrifice fly by Bobby Abreu, whose two-out, two-run single keyed a three-run third inning.

Beckham hit a solo home run off Lackey in the first, Carlos Quentin added a solo shot in the second, and Chicago scored an unearned run on Paul Konerko's sacrifice fly in the third.

The key play of the third came when Figgins, moving from third base to shortstop in an exaggerated shift, booted Jim Thome's potential double-play grounder, allowing Jermaine Dye to go from first to third.

"We drew some walks and Abreu had a big two-out hit with runners in scoring position," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We just couldn't bunch enough hits, and we cracked the door open a little on defense."


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