ANAHEIM (AP) — Rookie closer Jordan Walden wasted a three-run lead in the ninth inning, throwing away a potential game-ending grounder as the Los Angeles Angels’ playoff hopes were dealt a devastating blow with a 6-5 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.

The defeat left the Angels 2 1-2 games behind Boston and two games back of Tampa Bay in the AL wild-card race. Los Angeles has three games left.

Walden (5-3) relieved with a 3-2 lead and two outs in the eighth, and the Angels added a pair of runs in the bottom half.

But Josh Willingham homered leading off the ninth, and Scott Sizemore and Chris Carter singled with one out. Adam Rosales then hit a comebacker that could have been turned into a game-ending, double play, but Walden threw the ball past shortstop Erick Aybar and into center field as Sizemore scored.

Kurt Suzuki followed with a tying double, giving Walden his 10th blown save in 42 chances, and Coco Crisp’s sacrifice fly put the A’s ahead.

Fautino De Los Santos (3-2) won despite allowing Peter Bourjos’ two-run single in the eighth, and Andrew Bailey pitched a hitless ninth for his 23rd save in 25 chances.

Pitching on his 33rd birthday, the Angels’ Joel Pineiro retired his first 13 batters and allowed three hits in 6 1-3 scoreless innings.

Oakland’s Rich Harden allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings and finished his season with a 5.12 ERA.

Bobby Abreu’s RBI single in the first and third-inning homer built a two-run lead, and Vernon Wells’ 25th homer made it 3-0 in the fifth.

Jemile Weeks’ RBI single and Crisp’s first sacrifice fly cut the gap to 3-2 in the eighth—the latter driving in the first run against Downs at home in 28 appearances this season.

NOTES: Oakland RF David DeJesus robbed Howie Kendrick of extra bases in the fifth, making a backhanded grab of his drive toward the right-field corner and colliding with the short padded fence. He bruised his left hip on the play, but played one more inning before leaving the game. … For the second straight game, Angels 1B Mark Trumbo had to come out after six innings because of discomfort in his right ankle. … A ceremonial first pitch was thrown by David Eckstein, the shortstop on the Angels’ 2002 World Series championship team. … Abreu batted .237 against Oakland this season with one home run. Last season, he hit .328 against the A’s with six homers. … Harden was 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA in seven starts against AL West teams this year, and 4-0 with a 3.86 ERA in eight starts against other clubs. … Jered Weaver, whose final start of the season is Wednesday against Texas, has a chance to join John Lackey and Frank Tanana as the only Angels pitchers to win an ERA title in the past 35 years. His 2.41 ERA is one point behind Justin Verlander, who made his final regular-season start on Saturday. … Oakland concludes its season with a three-game series at Seattle.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)



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