Angel Stadium was abuzz. Fans elbowed one another, making sure everyone got a good look at the intruder on the field in the fourth inning.
The intruder was a cat. It was not black. Perhaps the Angels, so desperate for something to reverse their rotten run, would be blessed with feline fortune.
The orange cat scampered down the third-base line, turned into a camera well and jumped into the stands. The Angels resumed batting, and they scored three runs that inning — more than they had scored in any game of this homestand.
No, and no. The St. Louis Cardinals scored five runs in their very next at-bat, taking the lead for good in an 12-10 victory.
The Angels played six games on this homestand and lost them all.
They’ve lost 10 of 12 games and fallen into last place in the American League West. They are eight games out of first place, their largest deficit in three years.
They had not given up so many runs in any game this year.
And the injury-riddled Angels finished the game with Geovany Soto, a catcher, at third base in place of Yunel Escobar, who jammed his right thumb diving for a ball. Soto fielded one grounder and bounced the throw to first base.
Brendan Ryan, the backup infielder, already had replaced Cliff Pennington at shortstop, because Pennington cramped up.
“It may not look like it right now,” pitcher Jered Weaver said, “but everybody is keeping a positive mindset.”
The game turned on Weaver’s sudden turn. Weaver retired the first 11 batters, striking out the side in the third inning with third strikes clocked at 85 mph, 74 mph and 68 mph.
He faced another 10 batters. Nine got hits.
In the fifth inning, after the Angels and their apparently lucky cat had taken a 5-3 lead, Weaver returned to the mound and gave up two singles, a three-run home run to Matt Carpenter, another single and a two-run home run to Matt Holliday — the second straight at-bat in which Holliday had homered.
“I just didn’t do my part,” Weaver said.
Holliday had four of the Cardinals’ 18 hits, the most hits given up by the Angels this season.
Carpenter and Holliday each faced Weaver for the third time in that fateful fifth. The slugging percentage against Weaver: .397 on the first time through the order, .567 on the second, .821 on the third.
“There’s no doubt he was pitching well,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. “If we’re going to force ourselves to tap into the bullpen every fifth inning because our starter gets into a jam, we’re going to have a 15-man pitching staff.”
Weaver’s ERA jumped to 6.10, third-highest in the AL, better only than Michael Pineda and Luis Severino of the New York Yankees and Phil Hughes of the Minnesota Twins.
There is no talk of removing Weaver from the rotation, at least not now. The Angels had to trade one of their minor leaguers this week just to get a fifth starter to complete their rotation.
For the home team, this was a waste of a rare offensive outburst.
The opposing starter, Adam Wainwright, gave up seven runs and 11 hits in five innings. He was credited with the victory.
The Angels got 15 hits, including a home run from Daniel Nava -- the first for an Angels left fielder this season, and two doubles from C.J. Cron. Pujols became one of nine active players to have homered against each of the 30 major league teams.
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