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OC Register: Angels bullpen blows late lead in fourth straight loss

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ANAHEIM — Joe Maddon gave Aaron Loup a chance to redeem himself, and he got burned.

Loup allowed a pair of doubles while three runs scored in the eighth inning of the Angels’ 6-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday night.

It was the ugly finish to a night that also included a frightening scene when catcher Kurt Suzuki suffered a neck contusion during warmups before the third inning.

The Angels have lost four in a row, with Loup blowing late leads in each of the last two.

Loup signed a two-year, $17-million deal with the Angels after posting an 0.95 ERA last season with the New York Mets, and he pitched as advertised for the first month, but he’s struggled lately. He has allowed at least one run in his last four games, and at least one hit in his last six. It’s lifted his ERA to 4.82.

This time Maddon put him in an unusual situation — facing right-handed hitters — and it didn’t work.

Right-hander Kyle Barraclough started the eighth just after Mike Trout had given the Angels a 4-3 lead with a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh. Barraclough had not been used in high leverage spots, but Maddon gave him a shot.

Barraclough walked two hitters and then nearly gave up a three-run homer, but left fielder Brandon Marsh made a leaping catch at the fence.

That was enough for Maddon, who then brought Loup into the game despite the fact that the Blue Jays had two right-handed hitters coming to the plate.

Loup struck out Lourdes Gurriel Jr., but then Matt Chapman pushed a line drive into right-center field. Right fielder Juan Lagares got a glove on it as he slid, but couldn’t make the catch, allowing the tying run to score. Lagares hurriedly threw the ball into second baseman Luis Rengifo, who bobbled it, allowing a second run to score.

The Angels then intentionally walked pinch-hitter George Springer to get to the left-handed hitting Raimel Tapia, and Loup gave up a double to him too, allowing an insurance run to score.

That run proved to be the difference, because the Angels scored once on a Brandon Marsh RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. The game ended when Andrew Velazquez grounded out with the bases loaded.

It was the end of a tumultuous night that saw the lead change hands three times in the seventh inning or later, starting with the Blue Jays taking a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh and the Angels re-taking the lead on Trout’s homer in the bottom of the seventh.

It was the first time since May 2014, and only the second time in his career, that Trout hit a homer to turn a deficit to a lead in the seventh inning or later. He had hit nine tie-breaking homers in the seventh or later.

Trout’s homer took Michael Lorenzen off the hook for a loss that he didn’t deserve.

Lorenzen was charged with three runs in 6-2/3 innings, but he had a 2-1 lead when he took the mound in the seventh, having dominated the Blue Jays for most of the game after allowing a run in the first.

He was one out away from finishing the seventh with a 2-1 lead, but he gave up a run-scoring double to Cavan Biggio to tie the game.

Biggio then scored on a single by pinch-hitter Alejandro Kirk against reliever Archie Bradley, charging a third run to Lorenzen and giving the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead.

The rough start and finish detracted from a dominant outing. In the second through fifth innings, Lorenzen gave up just one infield single and one walk. He faced just one hitter over the minimum.

Nearly one-third of the way through the season, the experiment to make Lorenzen a starter so far seems to be a success.

Through eight starts, he has a 3.19 ERA in 48 innings. He’s finished six innings and allowed three runs or fewer in six of his eight starts.

More to come on this story.

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