A loss at home leaves Angels discouraged

Thursday's loss in the regular-season home finale could deflate the Halos' playoff hopes.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – After the last out of what was probably their last home game of the season, the Angels disappeared down the runway at the end of the dugout and climbed the stairs leading to their clubhouse. Several hundred fans waited in the stands hoping a few players would emerge so they could cheer them one final time, but no one came out.

It's quite possible the Angels won't be seen again until next spring. On a bright, sunny afternoon at Angel Stadium, they might have squandered their final chance to make the playoffs.

Who knows? Maybe luck will engulf them the next six days and they'll somehow find a way to reach the postseason. But their burden is even heavier now.

On a day the Oakland A's lost to the Texas Rangers, the Angels also lost, dropping a discouraging 9-4 decision to the Seattle Mariners that prevented them from moving to within one game of the American League's second wild card spot.

Had they won, the Angels would have boarded their charter flight to Dallas believing good things were happening. But with three games left against the Rangers and three at Seattle, they will need divine providence to save their season.

"We had a chance to gain a game, but we're still the same -- two games out and six games to go," outfielder Torii Hunter said. "We've got to win, no matter what. To give ourselves a chance, we've got to win."

They didn't win their home finale because they made two costly errors that led to two unearned runs and their bullpen failed to keep the game close after starter Dan Haren exited in the sixth inning.

Rookie Garrett Richards, a starter who's been working in relief since late August, surrendered three runs in two-thirds of an inning, and by the time the seventh was over, the Mariners had a 7-2 cushion. LaTroy Hawkins also struggled.

"Those guys had a rough afternoon," manager Mike Scioscia said of his relievers. "When they've done the job, we've done well as a team. When they've struggled, obviously it's had an impact on us."

It was one game in which the Angels couldn't afford to have anything go wrong, but it did. Worse, by the time they landed in Texas, they learned that the Tampa Bay Rays had beaten the Chicago White Sox and pulled into a tie with the Angels for third in the wild card race.

Nothing is going to be easy over the few days that remain.

"We know what we're up against," Haren said. "Hopefully we can play well tomorrow and put a little pressure on Oakland and just go from there. This loss hurts, but we've got to shrug it off and play hard tomorrow."

The fact is, they can't afford to lose another game. But even if they go 6-0, nothing is assured.

"Momentum is crazy at this time of year," Scioscia said. "We need to get right back on the horse tomorrow with a win and hopefully we'll get a little bit of help."

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