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Angels blow 4 late leads in gut-wrenching loss to Rays

The Angels had leads in the ninth, 10th, 11th and 13th innings but could not close out the Rays in a 7-6 defeat. José Soriano had been in line for the victory before the game got away from the bullpen.

Angels relief pitcher Carson Fulmer shows his frustration after giving up an RBI double to the Tampa Bay Rays’ Richie Palacios (not pictured) that tied the score in the 13th inning on Tuesday night in St Petersburg, Fla. The Angels lost, 7-6, in 13 innings. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Angels relief pitcher Carson Fulmer shows his frustration after giving up an RBI double to the Tampa Bay Rays’ Richie Palacios (not pictured) that tied the score in the 13th inning on Tuesday night in St Petersburg, Fla. The Angels lost, 7-6, in 13 innings. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Associate mug of Jeff Fletcher, Angels reporter, sports.

Date shot: 09/26/2012 . Photo by KATE LUCAS /  ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Angels’ bullpen didn’t blow a lead in the first 16 games of the season.

Then they did it four times in five innings on Tuesday night.

The Angels gave up leads in the ninth, 10th, 11th and 13th innings of a gut-wrenching 7-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

“We had our opportunities to win,” Angels manager Ron Washington said. “They had their opportunities to win and we kept going back and forth. And they beat us. I liked the way my guys hung in there and kept coming back and kept fighting. And at the end somebody had to win. They did. We’ll come back tomorrow.”

Right-hander Carson Fulmer, who was working with just two days of rest after throwing 63 pitches on Saturday, was on the mound when the Rays scored twice in the bottom of the 13th, both times with two outs. Richie Palacios doubled to drive in the tying run, and the winning run later scored on an infield hit by Amed Rosario. He hit a chopper and third baseman Anthony Rendon barehanded it, but his throw to first was too late.

“It’s just unfortunate, with the base open there as well, especially with two strikeouts going into that (Palacios) at-bat,” Fulmer said. “I got to tip my cap to him. He’s a great hitter. I’ll definitely be ready for the next one.”

It was all set up to be so nice and tidy. Right-hander José Soriano pitched five innings before hitting his pitch limit, leaving with a 3-1 lead. Soriano gave up just one hit, and he pumped his fist as he struck out All-Star Randy Arozarena to end the fifth. The first three Angels relievers retired all nine hitters they faced, getting the ball to closer Carlos Estévez, who easily put away the first two hitters he faced.

Then Harold Ramirez hit a slow roller up the middle. Second baseman Luis Rengifo went across the bag to get his glove on it, but he couldn’t make the play, which was ruled an infield hit.

“Anytime a ball is put on the infield and you get your glove on it, you want them to make it, but that wasn’t an easy play,” Washington said. “It wasn’t like it was a routine play. It was a tough play. Even if he would have come up with it, he might have had trouble trying to get the guy at first base. At least we kept it on the infield.”

Another ground ball single followed and then Estevez threw José Caballero a fastball over the outside corner and he punched it down the right field line for a game-tying triple.

“I got the guys to hit ball weak and that happens,” Estévez said. “Then he hit a well placed pitch the other way. There’s nothing I can do right there.”

Once the game went to extra innings, each team was able to push home its automatic runner in both the 10th and 11th innings, but not without more drama and what-if moments.

In the 10th, Angels right-hander José Cisnero fielded a comebacker and looked toward the runner at third, who had stopped. Cisnero threw wildly to first, allowing the run to score. Washington said Cisnero was “caught in between.”

“If he’d have made that play right there, we could have won the game,” Washington said. “That’s the way baseball is.”

Each time the Angels (8-9) gave up the leads, they came back and scored again, but they could never manage multiple runs to give themselves any breathing room. Their best chance was in the 11th, when they loaded the bases with no outs and Mike Trout at the plate. Trout hit a pop-up. Taylor Ward, the team’s best run-producer so far this season, hit a drive to the wall in center field, but José Siri made a spectacular catch. The sacrifice fly was the only run the Angels scored.

By the time it finally ended, equaling the Angels’ longest game since the current extra-innings rules were adopted in 2020, they could look back at so many things that could have gone differently to give them a victory, but Washington was philosophical.

“That’s baseball right there,” Washington said. “Anybody that saw that game tonight, that was a baseball game. We just didn’t come out on top.”

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