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Angels bullpen undermines Haren in 3-2 loss to O's

April 22, 2012
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ANAHEIM, Calif.—Dan Haren has been through this before -- little run support and a faulty bullpen, followed by a frustrating no-decision in a well-pitched game.

So forgive him if he wasn't throwing things all over the Los Angeles Angels' clubhouse after his latest wasted effort. He's almost used to it by now.

"I always try to put myself aside and try not to get caught up in wins and losses," Haren said Sunday after watching the Baltimore Orioles rally for a 3-2 victory and keep him winless through four starts. "Of course I want to win games, but I also want to pitch well and be healthy.

"There's more important things than winning 20 games," said the three-time All-Star, who tied a career high last season with 16 wins. "I just try to be the best team player I can and bring that attitude to the field. The most disappointing thing is that we've lost all three of those (no decisions). Today was probably the best stuff I've had so far. It was just unfortunate that we didn't come out on top."

Nick Markakis ended an eight-game RBI drought with a two-run single in the eighth inning and a run-scoring single in the 10th, helping the Orioles avoid a three-game sweep. It was the first series win this season for the Angels, who had lost their first four series for the first time in the franchise's 52-year history.

Haren was charged with two runs and six hits over 7 1-3 innings and struck out eight. The right-hander took a 1-0 lead into the eighth and was lifted after giving up one-out singles by pinch-hitter Matt Wieters and Ronny Paulino.

"You've going to have a battle every time against him, so you've just got to hang in there and try to have a good at-bat against him," Markakis said. "When a guy is cruising like that, your main objective is to get him out of the game and get to their bullpen. He puts his pitches where he wants to on any count at any time, and he doesn't leave too much over the plate."

Haren threw 73 of his 115 pitches for strikes, several of which didn't sit well with Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who was ejected by umpire Angel Campos after Markakis fell behind 0-1 in the count with two outs and a man on first base in the sixth. Markakis eventually was called out on strikes to end the inning.

"That was a fastball down and in, and it got a lot of the plate," Haren said. "(Showalter) was upset about the first pitch, but it caught the corner away. I heard him chirping from the dugout, and I knew he was going to get tossed when he came out."

Showalter's ejection was the 20th of his career and first this season.

"When you share your players' frustration, you can feel it in the dugout," Showalter said after the Orioles avoided a three-game sweep. "I mean, there was so much focus on the strike zone, it was taking away from the competition. And when you have the number of people we had complaining that don't ever complain, sometimes you have to take that bullet."

Scott Downs relieved Haren gave up a bloop single to Endy Chavez on an 0-2 pitch, loading the bases. The left-hander then turned J.J. Hardy's comebacker into a force at the plate, but he got behind Markakis 2-0 and Markakis put the Orioles ahead 2-1 with a two-run single through the left side of the infield -- his first two RBIs in a span of 37 at-bats.

"Nick's been sick as a dog the last two days," Showalter said. "During BP yesterday, I was an eraser away from changing the lineup -- and I'm sure he didn't feel a whole lot better today. A lot of guys would have bailed, but that's Nick Markakis. He'd be in there whether or not he played for an organization that Cal Ripken played for."

LaTroy Hawkins (0-1) came on in the 10th and issued a leadoff walk to No. 9 hitter Robert Andino, who advanced on a sacrifice by Chavez and a groundout by Hardy before Markakis grounded a hard single up the middle and off the glove of second baseman Howie Kendrick and into center field on a 1-2 pitch.

Pedro Strop (2-1) pitched two innings for the win despite allowing a tying solo homer in the eighth by Kendrick. Jim Johnson got three outs for his seventh save, helping the Orioles avoid a three-game sweep.

Kendrick's opposite-field homer to right was the first by the Halos in a span of 42 innings and just their second home run in 58 frames. It also ended a string of 36 straight homerless innings by Baltimore pitchers.

Wei-Yin Chen held the Angels to a run and five hits over 6 1-3 innings and struck out five in his third major league start. The Taiwanese left-hander was lifted by bench coach John Russell after giving up a pair of one-out walks.

Albert Pujols was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and remained homerless in his 16 games and 65 at-bats, the longest drought from the start of a season in his 12-year career. He started as the designated hitter for the first time since joining the Angels.

NOTES: Pujols is 18 for 54 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 13 career games as a designated hitter, including 12 interleague contests with the St. Louis Cardinals. ... Angels bullpen coach Steve Solis filled as 1B coach for Alfredo Griffin, who went back to the Dominican Republic for his mother's funeral.

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