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OC Register: Angels’ José Suarez squanders early lead in second straight poor performance

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ANAHEIM — The Washington Nationals didn’t necessarily hit José Suarez hard, but they hit him often enough that it didn’t matter.

The Angels’ left-hander was staked to an early three-run lead and he quickly gave it all back in a four-inning outing, his second rough start in a row to start the season.

The Nationals then pushed home a couple of runs against left-hander Tucker Davidson, while the Angels’ bats went silent in a 6-4 loss to a team that figures to be one of the worst in the majors this season.

Just after the Angels dropped two of three in a hard-fought series against the Toronto Blue Jays, a likely playoff contender, they might have hoped for a break from the Nationals’ visit to Angel Stadium.

But Suarez could not hold them down, allowing four runs on 10 hits. He gave up seven runs in 4-1/3 innings in his season debut last week.

Suarez struggled, but he also was the victim of some bad luck. The Nationals’ three-run fourth inning included a bunt single, a ground ball through the infield and another ground ball that was misplayed by second baseman Luis Rengifo.

The early exit for Suarez set in motion a series of events that will have a ripple effect throughout the pitching staff.

The bullpen was short-handed after Sunday’s 10-inning game, so Davidson was pressed into action in relief of Suarez. Davidson had been tentatively scheduled to start on Wednesday. Now the Angels are expected to activate right-hander Griffin Canning to pitch that game.

Canning is on the injured list, so someone else will have to come off the roster to make room, and that’s complicated because the only relievers with options are Jimmy Herget and Andrew Wantz.

Davidson hadn’t pitched in more than a week when he entered in relief of Suarez on Monday night.

The Nationals scored two runs against him, both times when the Angels failed to turn double plays.

In the fifth, there were runners at the corners when CJ Abrams hit a sharp grounder to first baseman Brandon Drury. He threw to shortstop David Fletcher, but the relay to first wasn’t in time to get the speedy Abrams at first.

Two innings later, the Nationals had runners at first and second when Victor Robles hit a slow bouncer to Rengifo, who flipped it to Fletcher. The relay wasn’t in time to get Robles, and Dominic Smith scored from second. Smith had barely been around third when the ball hit Drury’s glove at first.

Those two runs snapped a tie, and the Angels couldn’t get them back because their bats went quiet after an encouraging start.

Rengifo drove in two runs in the first with the first of his two hits.

Hunter Renfroe hit his third homer of the season in the third inning, and then Rengifo singled and scored on a Gio Urshela double, giving the Angels a 4-1 lead.

The Angels have led in nine of their 10 games, but they’re now 5-5.

At least they didn’t add another blown save to their total – they still have three – because Suarez gave up the lead before the bullpen got into the game.

More to come on this story.

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