MINNEAPOLIS -- LaTroy Hawkins jogged in from the left-center-field bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, with the game tied, a runner on third and not a single out on the scoreboard. His task was among the toughest a reliever ever has to face: get three straight hitters out and keep the go-ahead run from scoring.
"It's tough," Hawkins said, "but it's been done."
On Wednesday night, it wasn't.
On Wednesday night, Hawkins got through the two most difficult phases of that scenario -- with the infield in and a fly ball capable of bringing in the tiebreaking run -- but then gave up a two-out RBI single to Jamey Carroll, giving the Twins a 6-5 win and putting a sour note on a night when Peter Bourjos electrified the crowd with an inside-the-park home run.
"LaTroy came in a very tough situation and almost got out of it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We just couldn't quite make that one pitch that we needed."
It began with Jered Weaver, who checked into the seventh with a 5-3 lead and 97 pitches under his belt, then gave up back-to-back singles to Ryan Doumit and Danny Valencia and forced Scioscia to go to his bullpen.
"I felt good, just left a couple pitches up and fell behind," Weaver said after being charged with five runs, two of which came after he had left, in six-plus innings. "Any time you do that in a big league game, it's going to affect you."
Then came lefty Hisanori Takahashi, in to face the lefty-hitting Chris Parmelee, who tied the game on a two-run triple down the right-field line -- one aided by Torii Hunter, who collided with the right-field fence in foul territory while trying to cut it off.
Hunter appeared dazed after hitting his head on the wall, but stayed in the game after being checked on by Angels trainers.
"I was punch drunk -- felt like Mike Tyson hit me," said Hunter, who later reached second on a base hit up the middle with one out in the ninth, but was stranded. "It took everything in my body to get up. ... I should've stopped the ball at all cost. I tried to, and it just didn't work out, man. That was my fault."
Takahashi had Parmelee in the ropes at 0-2, but his changeup caught a little too much of the plate.
"He made a pitch that's really uncharacteristic of him," Scioscia said. "It was a changeup that just stayed toward the middle of the plate, and give Parmelee credit. He hit it."
With the infield in, first base open and the go-ahead run on third base, Hawkins proceeded to retire Alexi Casilla on a popout and struck out Denard Span after a 10-pitch at-bat, but left an 0-1 fastball up to the Twins' shortstop.
Carroll came into the game 0-for-13, and his Twins were 0-4. Then their fortunes turned with a single to right field.
"I just figured to look for something away and try to put it in play," Carroll said after finishing 2-for-4 and putting his batting average at .118. "I was fortunate enough to put it that way. That's me. That's how I usually hit, so it was a good feeling to see it go through."
It took three pitchers and six hitters for the Twins to erase a two-run deficit in the seventh.
It took the Angels 14 seconds to erase theirs in the fifth.
That's what the lightning-fast Bourjos was clocked at in his three-run, inside-the-park home run -- and that was despite not kicking it into gear until after rounding first base.
With runners on first and third and two out, Bourjos lined a ball to deep left field, where Josh Willingham ranged back but completely whiffed before colliding with the wall. By the time Span came over from center field, retrieved the ball and hurled it in, it was already too late.
Bourjos had beaten Carroll's relay throw easily, giving the Angels their first inside-the-park homer since Gary Matthews on June 17, 2007, against the Dodgers.
"We were all watching on the bench like, 'Oh my God,' " Hunter said. "Ridiculous."
If it would've been Kendrys Morales, instead of Chris Iannetta, on first base?
"It may have only been a double," Bourjos said, smiling. "I joked around with him in the winter. 'I said, 'Hey, if you're on first, where do I have to hit the ball to get you in?' He's like, 'Over the fence.' "
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.