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MIN@LAA: Bourjos drills a solo homer to left field

ANAHEIM -- Before Wednesday's game against the Twins, Angels manager Mike Scioscia talked about Joel Pineiro's need to simplify and get into pitcher's counts.

Come the actual game, the right-hander could do neither, giving up seven runs on seven hits in an 11-4 loss to the Twins at Angel Stadium.

The defeat kept the Angels one game back of the Rangers for first place in the American League West.

The deciding play of the game came after Pineiro exited with one out and the bases loaded in the fifth inning. Hisanori Takahashi came in to relieve Pineiro after one pitch and surrendered a grand slam to Michael Cuddyer that was rocketed over the center-field fence, breaking a 4-4 tie.

"Hisanori came into a situation that wasn't easy," Scioscia said. "Where Joel was, he obviously left a lot of guys out there and we weren't able to minimize the damage."

It was one of five Twins homers in the game, a new season-high for the Halos. It marked the first time the pitching staff has given up five or more home runs since Aug, 7, 2009, against Texas.

Getting off to a rocky start in the first inning, Pineiro gave up a single and stolen base to Ben Revere, before Joe Mauer tapped a bloop RBI single to left field and gave the Twins an early 1-0 lead.

Delmon Young then rocked a 1-0 sinker to left-center field in the second off Pineiro, a two-run home run, after Danny Valencia led off with a single. He also belted a solo home run his next time up in the fourth to the same spot off Pineiro.

"It was a good night for us swinging the bats," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had some big nights with some guys getting on base atop of the lineup and guys in the middle like Cuddy and Delmon coming up with some big ones. It was pretty much all the way up and down the lineup tonight."

A troubling sign for the sinkerballer, Pineiro has given up home runs in four straight starts. Even worse, the righty has lasted just 13 1/3 innings in that time, surrendering 22 earned runs and 29 hits. The loss drops him to 5-6 with a 5.31 ERA.

"I wish I had an explanation for what is going on. I have no idea. I feel healthy and good," Pineiro said. "I have tried everything that I can. Honestly the next thing I could do is sacrifice a live chicken. I just don't know."

Pineiro had enjoyed the friendly confines of Angel Stadium before Wednesday's start, posting a 2.61 ERA in his last 17 outings.

"It is easy to see that the ball isn't coming out of his hand the way that it needs to and his command isn't there," Scioscia said. "Joel is strong when he is commanding the count and getting contact on his terms and making pitches.

"He hasn't been doing that lately. It has been a rough go. We are going to keep searching and going."

While Pineiro said he hasn't experienced anything like this in his career, the right-hander said the silver lining is that he is fully healthy.

Still, Scioscia said the team will look over things Thursday and possibly juggle the rotation with an off-day Monday.

"We need J.P. pitching like he can. It is important," Scioscia said. "Our organizational pitching depth isn't where it has been at other times. We have five guys that we are counting on a lot at the Major League level. We'll look at everything and see what is the best way to move forward in helping us and getting Joel moving forward."

The Angels were able to claw their way back from a 3-0 deficit in the fourth, scoring four runs thanks to many timely hits.

Peter Bourjos powered a solo home run over the wall in left field with one out, before Torii Hunter hit a two-run single to left that scored Maicer Izturis and Erick Aybar. Izturis walked earlier in the inning and Aybar singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch to get into scoring position.

Alberto Callaspo then hit an RBI single, giving the Angels a short-lived 4-3 lead.

The Angels brought eight men to the plate in the inning, making Scott Baker's pitch count rise to 77 to chase him from the game after three innings. However, it was all for naught after the game-changing grand slam by Cuddyer, who added a solo shot in the ninth.

"You can give up five home runs if they are solos, but that wasn't the case tonight," Scioscia said. "Those guys swung the bats well tonight. On the mound we just had too many hitting counts for our guys to really get past anything." Comments