Angels stunned, drop heartbreaker in 10th

Angels stunned, drop heartbreaker in 10th

Angels stunned, drop heartbreaker in 10th
ARLINGTON -- The Angels had a chance -- two, actually -- to send an emphatic message to their heated division rivals and catapult themselves to a whole new level on Wednesday night. But momentum tends to swing like a pendulum at Rangers Ballpark, where the sun beams, balls scorch and leads melt.

The Angels led by one in the bottom of the ninth and by three in the bottom of the 10th, but Ernesto Frieri and Jason Isringhausen -- members of a bullpen that's currently without the irreplaceable Scott Downs -- couldn't hold either lead.

And in the end, the Angels were left heartbroken.

"It was a great game on both sides," a solemn Torii Hunter said shortly after witnessing a crushing, 11-10 defeat. "They got our closer, we got their closer, and it was just a good game all around. It was a lot of fun, but at the same time, it broke my heart."

Elvis Andrus stomped on it one final time, lining a one-out, bases-loaded single off Isringhausen to score two and walk off the hero, but he had several accomplices.

Like Ian Kinsler, who hit a ninth-inning solo homer off Frieri in the bottom of the ninth, tying the game and giving Frieri his first blown save in 13 chances.

Or Nelson Cruz, who gunned down the slow-footed Kendrys Morales trying to score on a two-out single in the top of the ninth, then led off the 10th with a solo shot to cut the Rangers' second deficit to two.

Or Michael Young, David Murphy, Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland, all of whom got on base after him to set up Andrus' heroics.

"That's the Rangers," said Andrus, whose club erased what was at one point a six-run deficit to give it its biggest comeback since August 2010. "That's the way we play -- with heart and passion. We showed that so many times, and we showed it again tonight."

Had the Angels won, they would've taken the first three on the road against the Rangers, moved to two games back in the American League West -- representing their shortest deficit since way back on April 11 -- and put themselves 11 games over .500 for the first time all season.

Rangers Ballpark tends to tease you like that.

"It's one of those games," Isringhausen said. "I've been a part of them here before. These guys always have dangerous lineups. And there seems to be a lot of home runs in this ballpark. Momentum changes so quick in this place. That's why a six-run lead is not safe. We know that."

A lot of the postgame chatter centered on why manager Mike Scioscia didn't pinch-run for Morales while up by one in the top of the ninth.

Peter Bourjos wasn't an option, since he was going to come into the game as a defensive replacement for Mark Trumbo and the Angels didn't want to lose the designated hitter by subbing him for Morales. Howie Kendrick, however, was available, but Scioscia said he didn't want to pinch-run for Morales for fear of losing both Morales and Trumbo in case the game went to extra innings.

"Tough to take both of those guys out right there," Scioscia said. "If you're in a higher-percentage thing like third base with one out, you might consider it more where there's a higher probability of scoring a run. Right there, they made a nice play. [Maicer Izturis] hit the ball one hop perfectly to Cruz. Earlier, Kendrys had scored on a double in the gap. I just didn't want to gut the lineup."

Asked if Kendrick would've been considered gutting the lineup, Scioscia said: "I think you want to keep that presence of Kendrys in there."

The Angels built their lead mostly off a six-run third inning against Yu Darvish, who ended up walking six batters for the third time this season and has given up 13 runs (12 earned) in 11 1/3 innings over his last two starts.

Garrett Richards, starting in place of Dan Haren, gave up five runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. LaTroy Hawkins finished the sixth and got through the seventh unscathed, but the Rangers made it a one-run game off Kevin Jepsen in the eighth, thanks to a two-out RBI single by Murphy.

One half-inning after Kinsler's game-tying homer, the Angels got back against Rangers closer Joe Nathan, with Chris Iannetta hitting a solo homer and Albert Pujols smacking a two-run shot to left-center field to give him his second straight multihomer game and 22 home runs on the season.

Frieri came back out for the 10th, after only a nine-pitch ninth, and was noticeably off. He gave up a monstrous homer to Cruz on the very first pitch, got little help from shortstop fill-in Andrew Romine, who booted an easy grounder by Young, then walked Murphy after an 11-pitch plate appearance before exiting.

"I told you before, these guys are tough," said Frieri, who came in with a 1.15 ERA in 31 1/3 innings since joining the Angels. "They have a good lineup, they swing the bat very well. It wasn't a good day for us today, especially for me."

Or Isringhausen.

The 39-year-old right-hander, and his 2.83 ERA in 35 innings, checked in with runners on first and second and none out and immediately got hit around. On his first pitch, Napoli lined a single to left field to load the bases. On his second, Moreland lined a single to right field to make it a one-run game.

Isringhausen got Kinsler to pop out, then survived another run scoring on a wild pitch thanks to a favorable bounce off the brick wall behind home plate. But that pitch made it 3-0 on Andrus, who worked the count full, then hit a high cutter down the left-field line to give the Rangers the emphatic victory.

"I was trying to get Elvis to hopefully roll over one and get a double play, and just left it in a bad part of the plate," Isringhausen said. "Got down 3-0, so I have to come back at him and couldn't make the pitch I wanted to make and he got a base hit. Just a crazy game. Nothing more than that."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.