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BAL@LAA: Scioscia on Haren and Chen after the loss

ANAHEIM -- Typically, in a pitchers' duel like the one at Angel Stadium on Sunday, the importance of every bounce, every break and every inch is magnified.

And, typically, when a club is struggling the way the Angels have during the first 16 games of the season, those breaks seem to bounce in favor of the opposition.

That much proved true in the 10th inning of their 3-2 loss to Baltimore, as the Angels dropped to 6-10 on the season, arguably the most disappointing start in baseball.

All that separated the two clubs was a slow 10th-inning bouncer that deflected off the glove of second baseman Howie Kendrick and into center field.

"When you're a good team and you play consistent baseball at a high enough level, you absorb things like that," manager Mike Scioscia said.

Nick Markakis fought off a good two-strike curveball from LaTroy Hawkins and hit it toward Kendrick, who appeared to twist his ankle in trying to make a play. Kendrick stumbled as the ball hit his glove, trickling into center field. That gave the Orioles what became the winning run when Kendrick struck out to leave Bobby Abreu stranded at third in the bottom of the 10th.

"That's all a part of baseball, and when you're playing as we are right now -- not firing on all cylinders -- sometimes those hops that don't go your way are going to be the margin of error," Scioscia said.

On several occasions this season, Scioscia has pointed to the starting pitching as the biggest factor in the club's struggles.

That certainly wasn't the case on Sunday as Dan Haren pitched his best game of the season, working 7 1/3 innings and allowing two runs while striking out nine. But for the third straight game he was rewarded with a no-decision after leaving with a lead.

"The most disappointing thing is that we've lost all three of those games, not that I haven't gotten the win in those games," said Haren, who lowered his ERA to 4.07. "As a starting pitcher, if you pitch well and the team wins, at least for me, I feel good going home. Today, I don't feel good."

After holding Baltimore scoreless for seven innings, Haren exited with a 1-0 lead and two men on base in the eighth. Lefty Scott Downs allowed a bloop hit and then a two-out, bases-loaded single to Markakis, plating the tying and go-ahead runs.

Haren's mood after the game echoed that of the entire club -- frustrated but not overly concerned. The losses, he said, are aggravating, but he has little doubt that the club will turn around its struggles.

"We're going to get going, it's only a matter of time," Haren said. "We don't want to dig ourselves too deep of a hole, but the track records and the talent, it's got to take over at some point. We've got to go out and just try and win that one game."

Haren got the no-decision when Kendrick tied the game with his second homer of the season in the bottom of the eighth inning. But he certainly pitched well enough to merit his first win. He worked in the zone all day -- Of his 115 pitches, 73 were strikes.

"Dan pitched a gem," Scioscia said. "He really pitched well, and maintained his stuff throughout. Unfortunately, we just couldn't give him enough support offensively where he could have any margin of error late in the game."

Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen did a good job holding the Angels to their one run. He allowed five hits in 6 1/3 innings, but until the eighth-inning rally it looked as if he'd be the tough-luck loser.

"Command was the thing," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing a called strike on Markakis. "Quite frankly he didn't get the benefit of a lot of borderline calls like Haren was, but he was able to work through that. He was the difference today. When you are facing Haren with the strike zone he's working with you are going to have to really be good, and he was."

The Orioles began their rally off Haren with a pinch-hit single from Matt Wieters. Then a single from Robert Andino ended Haren's night.

"He used all of his pitches more," catcher Bobby Wilson said. "We didn't just rely on his fastball/cutter more. He used everything and he had a good feel for it."

Haren said he shied away from his cutter because it cost him in his first three starts. He said three of the four homers he's allowed this season were on cutters.

First baseman Albert Pujols, at DH for the first time this season, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and is now hitless in his last 12 at-bats. He remains homer-less through the team's first 16 games, the longest stretch to start his career. Comments