BALTIMORE — Another close game, another defeat for the Los Angeles Angels.
It's a habit that's becoming quite annoying for a team desperate to turn around a season that has gone decidedly sour.
The Angels wasted a solid pitching performance by Jason Vargas on Tuesday night and dropped a 3-2 decision to the Baltimore Orioles, their fourth straight loss. This one, sadly, was like many of the rest, including the 4-2 setback against Baltimore on Monday.
Exactly half of Los Angeles' 38 defeats have come by one or two runs. The Angels have dropped 14 games by one run and won only nine by the thinnest of margins.
"It's tough. It seems like we're coming out on the wrong end of these games a lot," said center fielder Peter Bourjos, who made the defensive play of the game. "We just got to do a better job of getting guys in."
The Angels couldn't do much against Miguel Gonzalez (4-2), who allowed only four hits and a run over eight innings. In the ninth, facing closer Jim Johnson, Los Angeles got a two-out double from Josh Hamilton, who scored on a single by Albert Pujols. But Mark Trumbo looked at a third strike to end it.
So what's wrong with the offense?
"Right now it's consistency, trying to get guys more comfortable," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We didn't do enough these first two games on the offensive side to pressure them, get them into our game. Get some early runners on in innings, put guys in motion. Those opportunities haven't been there so it comes down to batter's box offense and we didn't swing the bats the last two nights."
The Angels fell 11 games under .500 (27-38) despite a getting a home run by Mike Trout that traveled an estimated 448 feet. Howie Kendrick had two hits for Los Angeles, which has dropped nine of 11.
Bourjos robbed J.J. Hardy of a two-run homer in the first inning. After retreating toward the warning track, Bourjos pressed his body against the wall with a perfectly timed leap, stuck his glove well over the 7-foot barrier and caught the ball.
"I felt like the wall was coming," Bourjos said. "I had a pretty good read on where the wall was. It was just a matter of whether I was going to be able to jump high enough or was the ball going to carry further than it did. I was lucky to make the play."
Vargas (5-4) allowed three runs, seven hits and a walk in 6 2-3 sharp innings. The loss ended the left-hander's five-game winning streak — a run that started with a shutout of Baltimore on May 3.
Vargas was pulled after the Orioles used two-out infield hits by Danny Valencia, Steve Pearce and Ryan Flaherty to load the bases in the seventh. Left-hander Scott Downs was summoned from the bullpen to face Nick Markakis, who lined a two-run single to center for a 3-1 lead.
"You want to be in those situations," said Markakis, who's now batting .346 with 10 RBIs when there are two outs and runners in scoring position. "I've faced Downs enough to know what he's going to do up there."
Trout put the Angels up 1-0 in the fourth with his 12th home run, the second in two nights. It's the ninth time in his career he's homered in successive games.
In the bottom half, Hardy was thwarted in a second straight at-bat. After being earlier victimized by Bourjos, Hardy popped a foul toward the seats in left. As Trout prepared to make the catch, a fan wearing a Trout jersey stuck his glove in the way. The ball bounced off the fan's mitt and landed on the ground, but third base umpire Joe West called Hardy out because of fan interference.
Held to two hits through five innings, the Orioles pulled even in the sixth. No. 9 hitter Flaherty singled and Markakis followed with a single that momentarily handcuffed Bourjos for an error, putting runners at second and third. Manny Machado followed with an RBI grounder, providing Baltimore with its first run against Vargas in 15 innings this season.
NOTES: Machado extended his hitting streak to nine games with a first-inning single before being picked off first base by Angels C Chris Iannetta. ... Baltimore's Chris Davis ended an 0-for-16 skid with an infield hit in the first inning, although replays showed he was out at first. ... Seven of the nine homers Gonzalez has allowed have come at home. ... Jason Hammel (1-3, 7.33 ERA at home) starts for the Orioles in the series finale Wednesday. Jerome Williams will be on the mound for LA. ... Trout's eight homers against Baltimore are his most against any opponent.
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