Angels’ offense goes missing in 3-1 loss to Orioles

The Texas Rangers continue to hold their ground. The Angels just confound.

One game after amassing 12 runs and 17 hits against one of baseball’s best teams (Tampa Bay), the Angels were handcuffed by one of its worst teams in a 3-1 loss to Baltimore on Friday night.

Orioles right-hander Brad Bergesen, 23, gave up one run and four hits in eight innings to improve to 6-9 and trump Angels right-hander Trevor Bell’s solid seven-inning, two-run, six-hit start.

The Angels scored their only run on a first-inning balk, they went hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position and fell 10½ games behind the Rangers in the American League West, their largest division deficit since July 28, 2003. It continued the trend of inconsistency that has plagued the Angels for most of the season.

“We’re hoping we have a 10-game winning streak and they have a 10-game losing streak,” Angels right fielder Torii Hunter said of the Rangers. “We’re throwing up a Hail Mary.”

Hunter sounded desperate after the game. He looked a little desperate in the fourth inning, tagging from second on Hideki Matsui’s fly to left field and getting thrown out at third by Felix Pie for an inning-ending double play.

“There was no plan,” Hunter said. “I didn’t think he would throw a strike to third, and he did. It was a gamble and I lost. Sometimes, you think you have to gamble, but you don’t have to. You start trying to create things, sometimes it doesn’t work out.”

Hunter had a similar gaffe on Aug. 4 at Baltimore, getting thrown out trying to steal third in the ninth inning of a 9-7 loss.

“He’s trying to set the tone, make things happen, and at times, some outs are tough,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “There’s a frustration level we try to keep to a minimum, but they all feel it.”

Sweet home Arizona

Brandon Wood, whose offensive struggles cost him the Angels’ third base job in July, has settled on his winter ball plans, and they won’t require any trips to Latin America.

Wood, who was released from teams in the Dominican Republic and Mexico on his last two forays into winter ball, will return to the Arizona Fall League, which is reserved for prospects on the way up to the big leagues, not players who have already been there.

A resident of Scottsdale, Ariz., Wood led the AFL in home runs (14) and runs batted in (32) in 2005. Wood is also engaged to be married Dec. 4 and wanted to remain close to home.

“It’s about getting at-bats, working on my swing and my stance, and I didn’t think it was necessary to go to the Dominican to do that,” Wood said. “I can get 100 at-bats in the fall league.”

Will Wood, who is hitting .165 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 63 games, have to swallow his pride a bit to play in the AFL?

“If it was a pride thing, I would go to the Dominican,” he said. “I know I’m not going to the fall league as a prospect on the way up. But I’m going somewhere that is 15 minutes away from my house and getting at-bats. It will be good for me.”

Pineiro progress

Joel Pineiro threw off a mound Friday for the first time since suffering a left rib-cage strain on July 2, a significant step in the right-hander’s rehabilitation.

Pineiro, who was cleared to throw in the bullpen after a undergoing a second MRI test Wednesday, threw 30 fastballs, 15 from a full windup and 15 from the stretch, at about 80% effort.

He will need at least one more bullpen session and a simulated game or two before returning to the rotation.