ANAHEIM -- The Angels blew their chance to nudge closer to the playoff picture with a spectacular ninth-inning meltdown.
Rookie closer Jordan Walden, in his second inning of work, made a throwing error on what would have been an inning-ending double play and allowed four Oakland A's runs to score in a 6-5 loss Sunday.
The loss probably cost the Angels their shot at the wild card. They trail the Boston Red Sox by 2 1/2 games pending Boston's night game in New York and they lost ground to second-place Tampa Bay, which trails Boston by just a half-game. The Angels have three games remaining, scant time to make up so much ground on two teams.
Stealthy stuff. Joel Pineiro was 0-3 with a 10.26 ERA against Oakland in 2011 entering this game. Six of the nine batters in Oakland's lineup were hitting at least .318 in their careers against Pineiro. So, where did this come from? Pineiro breezed through six innings and had thrown just 77 pitches when Mike Scioscia pulled him after two straight singles in the seventh. Pineiro worked aggressively and fast, getting nine groundball outs and allowing just three hits.
Bobby's blast. Bobby Abreu was batting .214 since the All-Star break and had settled into a part-time role, but he's still a professional hitter. He had an RBI single in the first and a solo home run in the third. If the Angels are going to make some noise in this pennant race, you get the impression Abreu could be involved.
Scrappy offense. The Angels still haven't found a way to get their offense in gear, but they showed a little more patience than in recent games and parlayed a couple of eighth-inning walks by Fautino De Los Santos into two big insurance runs on Peter Bourjos' bloop single. It seemed like they would be important until the ninth-inning implosion.
Relief worries. Scott Downs hadn't allowed a run at Angel Stadium all year before Sunday. That charmed streak came to an end with a shaky eighth inning. Downs allowed two hits and walked Oakland's No. 9 hitter to allow the A's to tighten this one up considerably. Scioscia pulled him in favor of Walden with two outs and two on.
Walden's work. Speaking of which ... these apparently are desperate times, because Scioscia resorted to a desperate measure. He brought his closer into the eighth inning, a move typically reserved for late pennant races and the playoffs. The rookie was about as wobbly as could be -- giving up a home run, three hits, a walk and throwing wildly to second base on what would have been a double play. Walden hadn't blown a save since Aug. 20, nailing down six in a row.
Trumbo's ankle. For the second straight game, the Angels' most productive power hitter had to leave the game with discomfort in his right ankle. Mark Trumbo looked awful striking out three times before that. With the Rangers coming to town, the Angels figure to need some offense in the next three days and losing Trumbo -- or an effective Trumbo -- would be a blow.