Things get ugly late as Angels unravel in loss to A’s

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Angels manager Mike Scioscia used his first replay challenge of the season, but like everything else that happened in the ninth inning Monday night, it didn’t go very well.

Scioscia didn’t get an umpire’s call at first base overturned, and the Angels, who were looking to go over .500 for the first time since opening day last season, imploded.

They were two outs away from celebrating a superb performance by left-hander Hector Santiago and the 496th home run of Albert Pujols’ career, but it went up in smoke.

Instead, closer Ernesto Frieri missed his location on a fastball to John Jaso, and the Oakland A’s pinch-hitter delivered a two-run, ninth-inning homer for a 3-2 victory at Angel Stadium.

"It was definitely a tough one," Santiago said. "We were up the whole game, and one mistake, they take over right there."

It was a big mistake. Jaso, who thrives at Angel Stadium, drove a 1-and-2 fastball from Frieri several rows up in the right field bleachers. In 20 career games at Anaheim, Jaso is hitting .424 (28 for 66) with six home runs and 22 RBI.

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"He hit a mistake pitch," Frieri said. "I was trying to go down and away, but I caught the ball, and the pitch came inside to his hands. That’s his hot spot. He’s looking to pull the ball and he got a really good pitch to hit.

"I knew it (was gone), the sound and everything. He put good contact on it."

In the bottom of the ninth, Howie Kendrick hit a hard bouncer to second base and appeared to beat the throw to first by Nick Punto, who bobbled the ball. Kendrick was called out, but Scioscia immediately issued a challenge.

After several minutes — and several replays on the stadium video board that had Angels fans yelling, "Safe!" — the call stood. Kendrick was ruled out on the play.

"From the replay I just looked at, he was safe," Scioscia said later. "I don’t know if they’re getting different angles or what’s happening, but it’s just an unfortunate thing of this process right now and it’s frustrating."

Santiago stood to win his first game of the season, pitching seven innings and giving up just one run. It was undeniably his best of three starts, one he hopes to repeat.

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"I was more in control of myself, my body, my command, my pitches," he said. "I got to throw all my pitches a little bit more, so today was definitely a positive step going forward."

For Pujols, too. He was 2 for 4 and now has hit in 10 consecutive games. In his past six games, he’s hitting .333 (8 for 24) with four homers and eight RBI.

He also showed some vintage defensive moves, going to his knees in the eighth inning to start a 3-6-3 double play.

"It’s just being healthy," Scioscia said of Pujols, who missed the final 62 games of last season because of a foot injury. "Albert is moving well around the bag, and in the batter’s box he’s strong. He looks like we saw him a couple of years ago after the first month. It’s good to see."