Hunter laments miscue as rally falls short

Hunter laments miscue as rally falls short

BALTIMORE -- Torii Hunter should have been feeling fine after Wednesday night's game. The veteran outfielder banged out a season-high four hits and helped the Angels rally from an eight-run deficit to make the Orioles sweat in the final innings.

But frustration lined Hunter's face and could easily be heard in his voice in the minutes after the Orioles hung on for a 9-7 victory over the Angels at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The veteran outfielder was beating himself up about a decision he made in the ninth inning that badly hurt a late rally.

The Orioles (34-73) held a 9-6 lead heading into the ninth after the Angels made things interesting with a five-run seventh following a 24-minute rain delay. Bobby Abreu opened the ninth with a double, and Hunter drove him in with another double. But Hunter then tried to steal third and was easily thrown out by Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters, delighting the crowd of 13,467.

"That was stupid," Hunter said softly. "That was so stupid. Can't take it back, killed the rally, terrible. They teach you that in Little League -- don't make the first out at third. [It] might have been the dumbest thing I've done in years."

Hunter thought he saw something from Baltimore closer Alfredo Simon that would let him steal third and get in position to score easily. The Orioles hadn't thrown out the past 26 players who tried to steal, and the Angels already had swiped four bases earlier. But Hunter getting thrown out clearly turned everything around.

"There's no real advantage to that, Torii doesn't feel good about that," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's playing aggressive, he's trying, but if there's a time when, obviously, there's more of an advantage -- right there, there's less of an advantage -- and obviously the risk isn't on our side."

For a long time, the Angels (54-55) didn't look like they'd be anywhere near an Orioles team that banged around starter Ervin Santana (10-8). He had an unusually inefficient effort and gave up nine runs on 12 hits in 3 2/3 innings as the Orioles improved to 2-0 under new manager Buck Showalter.

This was Santana's shortest stretch since July 26, 2009, when he also lasted just 3 2/3 innings against the Twins. He didn't have his usual good command, and the Orioles scored three in the second, one in the third and five in the fourth for the 9-1 lead.

"Nothing I can do, just forget about this one and get to the next one," Santana said. "I had good stuff in the bullpen. I'm just going to leave this in this ballpark and get to the next [game]."

Five of the 12 hits Santana gave up went for extra bases, and he needed 95 pitches to get through that short stint.

"There's always that time someone is going to hit him," Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones said.

The Angels then made it interesting following the rain delay. They got five runs on seven hits in the seventh inning to slice the Baltimore lead to 9-6. Mike Napoli singled twice in the inning. Maicer Izturis added a two-run double while Erick Aybar and Abreu both hit RBI doubles.

In addition, the Angels loaded the bases with two outs before pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo grounded out.

The Angels finished with 17 hits and went 7-for-17 with runners in scoring position, coming up with several timely hits in the final three innings to pull closer. Peter Bourjos was one of seven Angels to get at least two hits -- his first two in the Major Leagues.

But the lack of timely hitting early hurt the Angels. They stole four bases and got five hits in the first three innings but didn't score a run as Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz (4-11) wriggled out of some tough jams. He settled down after the five-run fourth gave him the eight-run lead and gave up just one run in six innings for his first victory since April 18.

Hunter played a big role in his team's offense. But that didn't mean much to Hunter after the game because he couldn't forget about the steal that shouldn't have been attempted as the Angels fell below .500 for the first time since June 2.

"[You] try to do a little too much and try to get to third so a ground ball or anything, you score a run," Hunter said. "No matter what, it's still stupid."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.