Angels' bullpen blows lead

The Angels think they've solidified their starting rotation with the acquisition of pitcher Scott Kazmir.

But there's still the matter of the Angels' bullpen.

After starter Jered Weaver threw six innings of shutout ball against Oakland and left with a 3-0 lead Saturday night, Angels relievers promptly blew the lead and more as the Athletics edged the Angels, 4-3, at Angel Stadium.

The Angels have now lost two of three in this series with last-place Oakland, which concludes today, and seven of 10 overall -- matching their worst 10-game stretch of the season.

And the Texas Rangers, in second place behind the Angels in the American League West, kept up the pressure by defeating the Minnesota Twins, 3-0, to climb to within four games of the Angels.

Weaver left August the way he found it -- in command. The right-hander, who struck out 11 batters in consecutive games early this month before losing two of his next three decisions, gave up only four hits in his six innings of work.

But after he threw 119 pitches on a hot night, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia replaced him with relievers Jose Arredondo and Rafael Rodriguez, who couldn't hold the lead.

After the game, the Angels optioned Rodriguez to triple-A Salt Lake to make room for Kazmir. Rookie right-hander Trevor Bell, who had been in the starting rotation, will replace Rodriguez in the bullpen, Scioscia said.

Weaver "did a great job; it's just he was out of gas by the sixth inning," and after the relievers took over "we weren't able to get out of that seventh inning like we wanted to," Scioscia said.

"It was just one of those nights where we had to pay a price for having a bullpen that was used a lot these last couple of weeks," he said.

With Arredondo pitching in the seventh inning, Oakland's Mark Ellis singled, Daric Barton walked and Cliff Pennington singled. As he then pitched to Adam Kennedy, Arredondo uncorked a wild pitch that scored Ellis.

Scioscia replaced Arredondo with Rodriguez, who gave up a single to Rajai Davis, scoring Barton and Pennington.

That wiped out Weaver's effort and sparked boos in the restless crowd of 43,011.

Oakland then scored the go-ahead run against Rodriguez in the eighth inning when, with the bases loaded, Barton grounded out to bring home pinch-runner Eric Patterson.

The Angels tried to tie the score again with one out in the ninth inning when Chone Figgins hit a grounder that Oakland shortstop Pennington bobbled but was ruled a single.

But when Bobby Abreu flied deep to left, Figgins tagged and tried to reach second but was thrown out by Oakland left fielder Scott Hairston to end the game.

"That's a good play" by Figgins and "you have to tip your cap" to Hairston, Scioscia said.

Weaver said he had hoped to pitch deep into the game to give the bullpen some breathing room, but Oakland batters hit a lot of foul balls and laid off pitches that ran up his pitch count.

"I felt good, but it just got away from us there at the end; that's baseball," Weaver said.

Oakland starting pitcher Vin Mazzaro, a rookie right-hander who had been pounded by the Angels for eight runs in three innings July 18, gave up only one run through three innings Saturday night.

But in the fourth inning, after Kendry Morales singled, Maicer Izturis hit a line-drive home run into the right-field corner, widening the Angels' lead to 3-0.

Howie Kendrick got the Angels started when he singled to left field in the third inning and moved to third base on Figgins' single.

Abreu then flied out to shallow left field, but the ball was deep enough for Kendrick to tag up and score.


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