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Four-run edge evaporates again

Again up four, Orioles can't hang on

ANAHEIM -- Rich Hill has his own perspective, and it may not necessarily match the box score.

Baltimore's southpaw starter allowed six runs or more for the third straight outing on Sunday but said he still feels like he's throwing the ball well. That may or may not be true, but one thing is certain: Hill was handed an early four-run lead Sunday and wasn't able to hold it, and the Angels stormed back to earn a 9-6 win.

"It's not hard to stay positive and confident. ... I threw the ball well today," said Hill. "I threw the ball well numerous times, I feel like. I think the last game against the Red Sox, if you look at it, there were three or four balls hit hard. Other than that, I didn't see too many hard-hit balls. I don't look at it as I'm getting hit hard.

"I look at it as maybe the execution of a couple of pitches. And again, the ball might fall somewhere where you're not expecting it to or it might bounce in your direction for an out. That's just the way it goes."

Hill allowed six hits and walked four batters on Sunday, and all of the runs came after he'd been spotted a lead. The left-hander first ran into trouble in the third, when he gave up run-scoring doubles to Bobby Abreu and Torii Hunter. That brought the Angels (45-35) within one run, but Baltimore wasn't done scoring.

The Orioles (36-46) tacked on another run in the fourth inning, but Hill gave it back in the fifth. The former Cub got ahead against Abreu before issuing a one-out walk. Hill succeeded in retiring Hunter on a popup, but then Vladimir Guerrero launched a monster two-run homer to left-center that tied the game.

Manager Dave Trembley dubbed the Abreu walk the key play of the game before breaking down Hill's outing.

"I would say the earned runs are a direct reflection of where his pitches are," he said. "Most of the pitches that are getting hit are pitches that don't have finish on them. What happens is that early in the game, the curveball, they'll take it or they'll swing through it. The second time or third time around, they don't even go after it. They go up there and hit and look for one pitch. And if you don't locate that one pitch, you're going to pay the price for it."

"I thought I was throwing the ball very well," countered Hill. "It's just the way baseball goes sometimes. Sometimes, you get through some innings like that, and the ball bounces your way. Obviously, they have power in the lineup, a lot of speed and when they get guys on, they are runners on. You are keeping your eye on them and obviously, your main challenge is to get the batter out. They have a very good lineup."

Baltimore and Los Angeles traded runs in the sixth, setting up a key rally in which the Angels barely swung the bat. Matt Albers (1-3) began the seventh by walking Abreu and, after Hunter doubled, the Orioles elected to intentionally walk Guerrero. Trembley went to Chris Ray, and the inning spiraled out of control.

Ray wound up walking the only two batters he faced, pushing two runs across the plate. Trembley took him out of the game and tabbed southpaw Mark Hendrickson, who allowed a sacrifice fly before escaping the threat. Just like that, the Angels had scored three decisive runs on one hit, four walks and a fly ball.

"Our guys gave it everything they had," said Trembley. "There were some great at-bats, some good baserunning, some very good defense. You score six runs, you think you're going to win."

"If you just get your butt kicked from the beginning, sometimes it's easier to handle," added Brian Roberts. "But to feel like you're going to win two games and not do it, that certainly is a little bit more frustrating."

With that comment, Roberts was referring to another four-run lead squandered on Saturday.

The second baseman was right in the middle of the action Sunday, as he hit a leadoff home run -- his first since April of last season -- and later added a two-run double in the third. Baltimore added a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning and a solo homer by Matt Wieters in the sixth to stay alive and keep putting pressure on the Angels.

"It's not always a good position to be in," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of the four-run holes his team created in successive games. "In this series, we were able to bounce back. We had some good at-bats with the bases loaded. Juan Rivera and Mike Napoli had two very good at-bats."

"We always think we could have won," said All-Star Adam Jones. "We just allowed some big innings and didn't recover from it. It's frustrating, we put some runs up there. We didn't continue to score. I don't think our lineup was content at all. [Starter Joe] Saunders settled down a little bit and their bullpen came in and shut us down."

Ray left the team after the game Sunday to get examined by team physicians back in Baltimore, and a roster move should be forthcoming on Monday. The Orioles, meanwhile, will stumble into Seattle with a 1-3 record on the current road trip and with a bullpen that has been exposed to a heavy workload in recent days.

"What happens is the usage of your bullpen is a direct reflection of what your starters do," said Trembley of his relief staff. "We talked a little bit before the game. When your starters are up in pitches and continually not holding leads, then you've got to go to your bullpen night after night after night. It makes it tough on everybody. It's hard to just get situations where the game's not on the line. The game has been on the line every time."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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