ANAHEIM, Calif. -- No pitcher wants to come out of a game in the middle of a shutout, but Angels left-hander Hector Santiago understood why it happened Tuesday night.
His pitch count was up, and he was admittedly a bit fatigued after battling the flu for three days. So even though he wanted to continue pitching into the sixth inning, his night was over.
Santiago's exit was the beginning of the end for the Angels, who lost to the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 at Angel Stadium, marking their first back-to-back losses since June 15-16.
The Angels, who remain two games behind the A's, have been so hot lately that a cold offensive night seems like an aberration. They got a two-run home run from Mike Trout in the eighth inning, but otherwise they were shut down by Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez and two relievers.
Angels left fielder Efren Navarro was 2 for 3; the rest of the offense was 1 for 26.
"You can't win every night," Trout said. "We hit a bunch of balls hard, just right at some people, and we couldn't get the big hit."
Then there was Santiago, who might be solidifying a starting rotation after throwing five shutout innings against the Orioles. He walked three batters and threw 99 pitches, and manager Mike Scioscia preferred to turn the game over the bullpen.
"He was a little under the weather, but I'll tell you, that was really a gutty performance from Hector," Scioscia said. "The walks costs him some pitches, and he had a couple of counts where he had 0-2 and 1-2 and ended up walking a couple of hitters. It probably cost him about 12 or 15 pitches, which might have been able to get him another inning."
Santiago said he began to feel ill Friday night when he was asked to pitch 2 2/3 innings in the Angels' 16-inning win over the Seattle Mariners. He was sent home early on Sunday and was dehydrated, which led to fatigue.
Even so, he wanted to stay in Tuesday's game after giving up just two hits through five innings.
"I definitely felt I could've gone out for the sixth," he said, " but I know where (Scioscia) is coming from too. I was sick the last thee days and felt fatigued and beat out there. But I felt good enough that I could've gone out for the sixth."
Handing a game to the bullpen is a good option for the Angels, but right-hander Mike Morin struggled after striking out the first two batters he faced in the sixth. Then he gave up three consecutive hits: an infield single to Chris Davis, a run-scoring double to J.J. Hardy and a homer to Jonathan Schoop.
Suddenly, it was 3-0.
Considering the difficulty the Angels were having with Gonzalez, the deficit was too big to overcome.
In two games against Baltimore, the Angels have been handcuffed by starters Bud Norris and Gonzalez, who is 3-1 with a 2.23 ERA in four career starts against the Angels.
"You're not going to square it up every night, you're not going to find a hole every night," Scioscia said. "We certainly haven't the last couple of nights. We'll hopefully get a better look tomorrow."