Angels swept by Orioles in 5-4 loss

Reporting from Baltimore — Off the road again … The Angels just can’t wait to get off the road again …

Not even the worst team in baseball could comfort the road-weary Angels, whose struggles away from Southern California reached demoralizing proportions Thursday night at Camden Yards during a 5-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

After a four-run, eighth-inning rally failed to prevent the Angels from being swept in the three-game series when reliever Francisco Rodriguez yielded Cesar Izturis’ walk-off, run-scoring single in the ninth, the visiting clubhouse doors remained closed about 10 minutes longer than usual for a team meeting.

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, who usually minimizes internal concerns, admitted to reporters that his players had lost some swagger after falling on the road for the 14th time in 17 games. The Angels trail Texas by 10 games in the American League West.

“For the most part I don’t feel the confidence in the dugout and I don’t feel the confidence out there on the field,” Scioscia said. “We need to get that back. We need to walk on that field and make it our field and play our game.”

Right fielder Torii Hunter, whose three-run, eighth-inning homer had pulled the Angels into a 4-4 tie, acknowledged that “right now we’re just coasting — all of us, actually. So we just need to push a little harder and go out there and grind.”

It would have been easy for the Angels to fold when fans of a team 38 games below .500 showered them with disparaging remarks after the Orioles took a 4-0 lead in the seventh inning off starter Dan Haren and reliever Kevin Jepsen.

But Bobby Abreu hit a two-out, run-scoring single in the eighth before Hunter crushed a pitch from reliever Jason Berken over the left-field wall to pull the Angels into a 4-4 tie.

“I felt we were back in it,” Hunter said.

Not for long.

Setup man Fernando Rodney pitched a scoreless eighth, but with the score still deadlocked, Scioscia opted to use Rodriguez (0-3) instead of closer Brian Fuentes in the ninth. Matt Wieters led off the inning with a double to left-center and pinch-runner Julio Lugo took third base on Corey Patterson’s sacrifice.

That’s when Scioscia deployed a five-man, drawn-in infield, with second baseman Maicer Izturis, Hunter and first baseman Howie Kendrick positioned on the right side of second base. Cesar Izturis, Maicer’s half-brother, then ripped a 2-and-2 fastball up the middle to drive in Lugo and give Buck Showalter his third victory in as many games as the Orioles’ manager.

Scioscia said his players had become overly cautious, hindering every aspect of their game.

“Our approach at times isn’t what we need to do,” Scioscia said. “We have to worry about making plays and not worry about the mistakes. And consequently we’re playing a little bit tentative at times, whether it’s on the defensive end, whether it’s a pitcher committing to a pitch or a guy in the batter’s box understanding a situation and what a pitcher’s trying to do. … We need to get better.”

Haren, acquired two weeks ago from last-place Arizona, said the Angels were determined to reverse their recent woes.

“The difference here is that when you lose a game, you definitely take it hard,” Haren said. "[Scioscia] won’t put up with it and he won’t allow us to be complacent and accept losing, so he got his message across and I think he expects more out of us. Hopefully, we’ll give that to him.”

They’ll get a chance Friday when they open a three-game series in Detroit at Comerica Park.

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