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News » AMERICAN LEAGUE 2009-04-25


Rotation reinforcements aren't around the corner, but they are on the horizon.

Ervin Santana threw two innings in an extended spring training game in Arizona on Friday, and John Lackey is scheduled to do the same today, the first steps toward a projected mid-May return for the Angels' top two pitchers.

That was of little consolation to the Angels and Shane Loux on Friday night. The Seattle Mariners rocked the right-hander for seven runs and 11 hits in four-plus innings of an 8-3 victory in Angel Stadium.

quot;Nothing seemed to go well,quot; said Loux, a sinkerball specialist who gave up 10 hits in his last start. quot;Maybe all this pitching-to-contact stuff is for the birds. I've given up 21 hits in two games and can probably count on one hand how many were hit hard.

quot;Still, hits are hits and runs are runs and losses are losses. Maybe I have to reevaluate how I go about my business. Maybe I need to locate better with my fastball and go for the strikeout when I can.quot;

Seattle left-hander Erik Bedard gave up three runs -- two earned -- and five hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking none, to improve to 2-1, and the Mariners amassed 17 hits to take a 4 1/2 -game lead over the Angels in the American League West.

quot;His curveball was A-1,quot; Angels center fielder Torii Hunter said of Bedard. quot;He's one of the top five lefties in the game. Give him eight runs, and you can put that in the bag.quot;

Loux held the Mariners to one run -- on Russell Branyan's second-inning homer -- in four innings, escaping a two-on, two-out jam in the second and a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the third.

But trouble dug its claws into the right-hander in the fifth inning and wouldn't let go. Loux faced seven batters and retired none.

Ichiro Suzuki, Endy Chavez and Ken Griffey Jr. singled to load the bases, and Adrian Beltre hit a two-run double to left. Branyan walked, Jose Lopez hit an RBI infield single, and Rob Johnson hit a bloop RBI single.

Manager Mike Scioscia pulled Loux in favor of Rich Thompson, whose wild pitch allowed Branyan to score. Yuniesky Betancourt capped the rally with a sacrifice fly to center. Thompson was optioned to triple-A Salt Lake after the game.

The Angels countered with three in the bottom of the fifth, which included Mike Napoli's leadoff homer to left, but that was all the offense they could muster.

Buried under the avalanche of Seattle hits and runs, the Angels may have found something precious, something that will be very useful this season -- their old setup man.

With the game essentially out of hand and runners on second and third and one out in the sixth, Scioscia summoned Scot Shields, the right-hander who had a 14.40 earned-run average and the weight of an entire struggling bullpen on his shoulders.

Angels relievers entered Friday with a 1-6 record and a major league-worst 8.04 ERA, quot;but it's pretty much all on me,quot; Shields said after taking the loss Wednesday against Detroit. quot;I take the blame for the bullpen. If it wasn't for me, we'd be OK.quot;

Shields usually pitches the eighth inning of games the Angels lead by three runs or fewer, but until he rights himself, he will be relegated to non-critical situations like Friday night's.

Shields jumped ahead of Lopez with two strikes but couldn't get his breaking ball over the plate. Lopez walked to load the bases, and it seemed Shields would only add to his woes.

But Johnson popped out to the catcher, and Franklin Gutierrez struck out looking at a 94-mph fastball on the outside corner that was probably Shields' best pitch of the season.

quot;That last pitch he threw was outstanding,quot; Scioscia said. quot;Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction.quot;


Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 25, 2009

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