Angels caught in a strand storm during loss to A’s


The Angels position players took the field Thursday night with an old-school, slump-busting kind of look, their bright white uniform pants pulled to their kneecaps and their red socks worn high.

Considering how that worked, they may resort to sacrificing a live chicken or tossing their bats into a pile and starting a bonfire Friday.

Albert Pujols mashed three doubles, but the Angels failed to cash in on too many chances, stranding two runners in five of nine innings and going three for 12 with runners in scoring position in a 4-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium.

Despite out-hitting the A’s, 10-3, the Angels lost their third straight game to a club they were supposed to dominate and fell to 4-9 on the season, seven games behind the Texas Rangers in the American League West. The earliest the Angels were seven games back last season was Aug. 17.

C.J. Wilson, making his home debut as an Angel, walked three, all of whom came around to score, including two on his bizarre throwing error in the fourth inning.

And shortstop Erick Aybar committed two errors on the day he received his 2011 Gold Glove Award in a pregame ceremony and signed a four-year, $35-million contract extension.

“Yeah, it’s frustrating, yeah, it’s rough, but that’s why you play 162 games,” Pujols said after coming within a foot of his first home run as an Angel in the fifth inning. “We can get a good streak going and forget about what happened in April. To be a championship club, you need to go through some tough times.”

Unlike Wednesday, when the Angels were shut out, 6-0, they at least put up a fight Thursday. Trailing, 4-0, they scored twice in the fourth on doubles by Pujols and Vernon Wells and Mark Trumbo’s run-scoring single, but the inning ended with Peter Bourjos grounding out with runners on first and third.

The Angels threatened again in the sixth, putting runners on first and third with no outs, but Aybar hit a fielder’s choice grounder to third, Trumbo holding, Peter Bourjos struck out, and Maicer Izturis grounded out.

Pujols third double and Torii Hunter’s walk put two on with one out in the seventh, but Wells flied out, and Trumbo struck out.

“We’re going to turn it around, no doubt — these guys are talented,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “We need to focus on our game and grind it out. We did a better job of that tonight, but we cracked the door open for them.”

Wilson was the doorman. He walked Seth Smith with two outs in the second and gave up an RBI double to Kurt Suzuki.

The left-hander walked the first two batters in the fourth, including Jonny Gomes on four pitches, and after fielding Smith’s tapper to the mound, Wilson threw an eephus-like pitch to first, the looping throw bouncing past Pujols for an error that allowed two runs to score. Kila Ka’aihue’s RBI single to center made it 4-0.

“It was a fairly easy play, and I tried to make it too easy,” Wilson said. “It was a changeup. I kind of lobbed it in there.”

Nothing has come easy so far for the Angels, a team many pegged as World Series-caliber, which raises the question: Are they succumbing to the pressure that comes with such high expectations?

“This is the major leagues, if you can’t handle pressure, then you can go bag groceries or something,” Wilson said. “No one in here feels pressure in that regard. We don’t care what anybody says or what you guys write. We’re trying to play the best baseball we can. If we play bad baseball, we lose.”