MINNEAPOLIS -- Those bullpen woes the Angels dealt with last season are now starting to linger into 2012.
On Thursday afternoon, the Halos' relief corps blew two leads, gave up seven runs in two innings, suffered a second straight loss and watched as one of its most talented members, Scott Downs, left with an ankle injury.
The result was a 10-9 loss to the Twins and a 2-4 record heading into a weekend series at Yankee Stadium.
"We just didn't close some doors when we had the opportunity to," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, whose club lost despite holding a 6-0 lead for the first time since May 14, 1994.
The Angels had several opportunities to close those doors.
They held the six-run lead before starter Dan Haren surrendered a three-run homer to Joe Mauer in the fifth.
They held a three-run lead before Kevin Jepsen and Downs -- who suffered no structural damage on the ankle but wasn't sure if he'd require a stint on the disabled list -- combined to give up three runs in the seventh.
And, thanks to a two-out RBI single by the hot-hitting Peter Bourjos, they held a one-run lead heading into the bottom of the eighth before Rich Thompson was torched for four runs in the bottom half -- on a two-run homer by Justin Morneau, an RBI double by Danny Valencia and a run-scoring single by Luke Hughes.
With Downs out, and both LaTroy Hawkins and Jason Isringhausen deemed unavailable prior to the game, Scioscia -- who wanted to save Jordan Walden for the ninth -- turned to Thompson in the eighth, which wound up costing the Angels.
"I just didn't get the job done," Thompson said. "I left a fastball up and [Morneau] did what he has to do with it. That's why he's their guy."
The Angels rallied in the top of the ninth, getting an RBI single from Mark Trumbo and an RBI groundout from Alberto Callaspo off Twins closer Matt Capps. But with two outs and the tying run at second, Chris Iannetta hit a slow roller to third base, with Valencia's throw just beating the Angels' catcher at first base to end the game.
The Angels had used a five-run second inning to take an early lead and led by three runs with nine outs to go. But a bullpen that blew 25 saves last season -- and surrendered a two-run, seventh-inning lead on Wednesday night -- could not hold on.
"I think our bullpen's deeper this year than it was last year, but we have to get settled into some roles," Scioscia said. "We've got a lot of confidence in what our arms can do. I think we just have to match them up with roles and hopefully get some semblance of continuity down there. I think once our starters hit their stride, some of those things will start to work out in the bullpen."
So far, those starters haven't. Especially not Haren, who gave up only three runs but was knocked around for nine hits while failing to reach the sixth inning in back-to-back starts for the first time since July 23 and 28, 2009. The right-hander now has a 6.97 ERA through his first two starts of the season.
"If I'm spotted a six-run lead, usually I win that game," Haren said. "I'm not happy with the way it ended up, that's for sure."
The Angels' offense erupted in a five-run second inning that saw them tally five hits, steal three bases and send nine batters to the plate against lefty Francisco Liriano. Trumbo homered to deep left-center field, Bourjos hit an RBI double and Maicer Izturis slapped a two-run single, then scored on an errant throw by Mauer.
Nursing a 6-3 cushion in the seventh, Jepsen gave up a homer to the hot-hitting Josh Willingham and put runners on second and third with one out before turning it over to Downs.
The Twins then made it a one-run game on a sacrifice fly by Hughes and tied it on a dribbler to first base by the speedy Denard Span, who mistakenly stepped on Downs' right ankle while crossing the bag and forced the ball out of his hands.
Downs rolled over on the ground in pain, but walked out on his own power and was diagnosed with a right ankle contusion (bruise). Afterwards, Downs was on crutches and felt a lot of soreness. Postgame X-rays revealed no structural damage, but the club was waiting on an MRI in New York to see if the lefty would require a stint on the disabled list.
Asked what hurt more, the ankle or seeing his team blowing another lead after he departed, Downs replied: "Both. That's baseball, it's going to happen. But it's not fun, that's for sure."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.