Frieri blows rare save, Angels fall in extras

Frieri blows rare save, Angels fall in extras

Frieri blows rare save, Angels fall in extras

ANAHEIM -- Sunday's series finale between the Pirates and Angels won't make either team's defensive highlight reel, but after seizing opportunities early on, the Angels blew a three-run ninth-inning lead en route to a 10-9 loss in 10 innings at Angel Stadium.

The loss marked the third time the Angels have been swept at home this season, as they closed a season-long 10-game homestand with a 5-5 record.

"This is one that got away from us," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "The bottom line is to focus on the process. I think what's the most frustrating is we did so many good things on that field."

Leading, 6-3, the Angels handed the ball to Ernesto Frieri to begin the ninth. Frieri began the outing having retired the last 22 batters he'd faced -- 12 via strikeouts -- but struggled mightily in this appearance.

Frieri walked the first batter he faced, Neil Walker, then surrendered a hit to Gaby Sanchez. The Angels' closer was then able to get the next two outs, but a double to pinch-hitter Russell Martin and a single to Starling Marte tied the game and ended Frieri's day.

"Walking the first guy is tough, then getting behind 2-0 to Sanchez, it's going to be tough to keep pounding those fastballs when you're constantly behind and he doesn't get a chance to expand the zone the way he can," Scioscia said. "Those guys did a good job."

Kevin Jepsen came on, and while he finished out the ninth, he ran into big problems in the 10th. Pedro Alvarez -- who homered in the first -- led off the inning with a double, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored when Travis Snider hit a bases-loaded single.

Snider's hit was a clean single, but J.B. Shuck misplayed the ball in left, which allowed the Pirates to clear the bases.

"He's busting his butt to come in and try to make the catch," Jepsen said. "If he gets to the ball and makes the catch, then he keeps it at no runs. I would rather him come in and try to get the out then just concede the run. He's playing hard, going after it. That's all you can ask."

While Joe Blanton's defense let him down with an error -- and two plays that could have been ruled errors -- in the third, the right-hander turned in his eighth quality start of the season, pitching 7 1/3 innings and allowing three runs (one earned).

Blanton, who has now notched a quality start in five of his last six outings, struck out six to run his American League-best total to 34 K's during June. He also retired the last 14 batters he faced.

"Just had a mix of pitches, and Chris [Iannetta] did a nice job behind the plate, really mixing it up moving in and out, changing speeds," Blanton said. "And our offense did a nice job of taking advantage early, getting a lead. I was able to attack the zone and let the defense do some work today."

The Pirates backed Francisco Liriano with some strong defense on Saturday, but starter Charlie Morton did not receive the same benefit Sunday, as the Pirates committed a trio of errors -- two in the second inning.

In the frame, the Angels batted around, taking advantage of Pittsburgh's errors while rapping out three hits to score five times.

Howie Kendrick scored the Angels' first run when Pirates second baseman Walker fielded Erick Aybar's infield chopper but made an errant throw.

Iannetta then hit a ground ball to third that Alvarez could not handle, giving the Angels their second run.

The Angels later plated two more when Iannetta scored from third and Shuck from second on a fielder's choice by Mike Trout. Trout hit a ground ball to Walker, who tossed it to shortstop Jordy Mercer for the forceout, but Peter Bourjos' aggressive takeout slide knocked Mercer to the ground and allowed a hustling Shuck to score.

However, Bourjos injured his left thumb on the play and was taken out of the game, after which he underwent precautionary X-rays.

Morton -- pitching from the same mound on which he made his Major League debut in 2008 -- scattered four hits over 5 2/3 innings and allowed six runs (three earned).

The Pirates got the scoring started in the first when Alvarez hit a solo home run to right field -- his third home run of the series and fourth in the past four games.

Pittsburgh added a pair of runs in the third -- the first on a ground ball that went underneath the glove of Kendrick, and the second via a double from Walker.

"You have to pick up the pieces and move on," Scioscia said. "This series we didn't play well enough to win."

William Boor is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.