ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — After the bullpen blew a lead in spectacular fashion for the second straight night, not even Mike Trout’s late homer could rescue the Los Angeles Angels from another disheartening loss.
Josh Donaldson drove in Jed Lowrie with an 11th-inning double, and the Oakland Athletics overcame Trout’s tying homer in the ninth for a 10-9 victory Tuesday night.
One night after Angels closer Ernesto Frieri wasted a one-run lead in the ninth, newcomer Joe Smith squandered a 6-5 advantage in the eighth by giving up four runs, three hits and two walks without getting an out.
“I was absolutely terrible out there,” said Smith, who didn’t allow a run in his first six appearances for the Angels. “There’s no other way to say it. That’s as bad as I’ve ever performed. We’ve got to get some stuff figured out, as far as the late innings go in the bullpen. I mean, it’s no secret right now. Me and Ernie, we’ve got to win those games – especially against this team.”
Trout got the Angels back in it with a two-run shot off Sean Doolittle. But Lowrie led off the 11th with a single against Yoslan Herrera (0-1), and Donaldson hit a sharp grounder inside third base that left the Angels wondering when their bullpen will work properly again.
“We need to get some sort of order down there,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “And if it (requires) doing it by committee, which we’re talking about now, we’ll do it. It looks like we don’t have enough guys that are really getting into their game. We need some guys that are going to make some pitches and get outs, but right now we’re struggling to find that chemistry.”
The Angels’ third loss in four games came with more bad news: Leadoff hitter Kole Calhoun is headed to the disabled list after turning his right ankle while running out a grounder in the 11th inning.
Smith even blamed himself for Calhoun’s injury.
“When one of your guys goes down in the late innings, where if you just do your job, the game is over and he doesn’t get hurt, and we have one more guy healthy, that’s what hurts the worst,” he said.
Jim Johnson (2-2) pitched two gritty innings for Oakland, getting Howie Kendrick on a groundout with Trout and Albert Pujols in scoring position to end the A’s 15th win in 21 games at Angel Stadium.
Both teams erased late three-run deficits during two dismal bullpen performances. The Angels trailed 9-6 in the eighth after leading 6-3 heading to the seventh.
The AL-leading A’s have won four straight and eight of nine largely because of their strength in tough situations, a product of back-to-back playoff appearances.
“It seemed like it was only a matter of time before we put a run across and figured out how to get a win,” Doolittle said. “We’ve been playing great this whole road trip, and we scrapped and clawed and came from behind. There’s a sense in this clubhouse that if the game is close or tied, we’re going to figure out a way to get it done. Who’s it going to be this time?”
Brandon Moss, Alberto Callaspo and pinch-hitter Derek Norris had RBI singles during a four-run eighth for the A’s.
David Freese had an RBI single in the eighth for Los Angeles, and Calhoun led off the ninth with a double off Doolittle. Trout, who had three hits and drove in three runs, tied it with a no-doubt shot to left, his fifth homer of the season and the Angels’ major league-best 23rd of the year.
“It felt like three different games,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “We got behind early and came roaring back again, but give them credit. The momentum shifts go back and forth, and it comes down to will.”
Chris Iannetta had a two-run double for the Angels, who chased Dan Straily in the fourth inning before the bullpen gave it all back.
Garrett Richards pitched seven innings of eight-hit ball for the Angels, but Smith’s meltdown denied him his third victory.
NOTES: Pujols went 0 for 5, snapping his 10-game hitting streak. … Iannetta stole his first base since Sept. 4, 2012, on a botched pitchout by Oakland. … Scioscia said hitting coach Don Baylor could be back with the Angels in a limited pregame capacity when they return from a long road trip later this month. Baylor broke his leg on opening day and isn’t likely to be in the dugout during games for several weeks.