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Frieri blows save in 9th; Angels lose 5-4 to Nats

Thursday - 4/24/2014, 12:30am  ET

Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Ernesto Frieri throws against the Washington Nationals during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Washington. The Nationals won 5-4. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Sports Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia says he is not ready to take away Ernesto Frieri's duties as the team's closer.

Scioscia sure would love to see Frieri pitch better than he did Wednesday night, though.

Called upon to protect a three-run lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, Frieri was charged with all four runs scored by the Washington Nationals during a rally that resulted in a 5-4 victory over the Angels.

"I'm missing with my fastball. I'm missing with my changeup. Slider. Everything," Frieri said. "I mean, today was a mess, man."

Los Angeles led 4-1 entering the last half-inning, and Frieri (0-2) went in, seeking his third save. But instead he blew a save chance for a second time this season, starting off by giving up a leadoff homer to Jose Lobaton.

One out later, Frieri put two runners on with a walk and a single. On a 3-0 count, Jayson Werth hit a game-tying, two-run double, and that was it for Frieri.

"The bottom line is making pitches. The inability to do that can come from a lot of causes -- confidence, mechanics, just stuff, maybe losing a release point," Scioscia said.

"With Ernie, I think he's confident, and he's always turning the ball loose. But right now, he's got to be able to get that fastball into better zones to put some guys away."

Asked whether he would make a change at closer, Scioscia said: "We have to have that deep bullpen that's going to hold leads. And if the guys in the middle keep doing what they can do, we have confidence that Ernie is going to be the guy. If some other guys continue to grow and you need to take some pressure off, you always consider some moves you have to make."

After Frieri departed, Adam LaRoche's tiebreaking RBI single off the first pitch from Fernando Salas gave Washington the win, avoiding a sweep.

Werth easily beat the throw from Mike Trout, crossed the plate with a fist raised and was greeted by teammates streaming out of the home dugout. The Nationals then headed over to swarm LaRoche.

Drew Storen (2-0) got one out in the ninth for the victory.

He won despite giving up a run-scoring single to Trout, who earlier robbed Bryce Harper of a hit with a headfirst diving catch and beat a throw home from his fellow 2012 Rookie of the Year to score.

"You expect things like that from that kid," pitcher Jered Weaver, who gave up one run in six innings, said about Trout's catch. "It was nice to give him a high-five after that one."

A night after hitting his 499th and 500th homers, Albert Pujols went 2 for 4 with an RBI double. Erick Aybar singled in a run.

The Angels dropped to 10-11, blowing an opportunity to climb above .500 for the first time since they were 1-0 last season.

NOTES: Angels LHP Sean Burnett (elbow) and RHP Dane De La Rosa (shoulder) are scheduled to throw in simulated games Thursday. ... After a day off, the Angels will have LHP C.J. Wilson (2-2, 4.21) on the mound Friday against Yankees RHP Hiroki Kuroda (2-1, 4.07) for the start of a three-game series at New York. ... The Nationals begin a four-game set Thursday against visiting San Diego, with RHP Jordan Zimmermann (1-1, 3.92) facing Padres LHP Eric Stults (1-2, 4.35).

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich


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