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OAK@LAA: Two runs score on Wilson's throwing error

ANAHEIM -- The Angels are starting to run out of ideas. On Wednesday night, they held a team meeting. On Thursday afternoon, manager Mike Scioscia unveiled his 11th different lineup of the young season. And later that night, all position players took the field against the Athletics with socks up, in a rather desperate attempt to find something -- anything -- that may get them out of their early-season funk.

The result was a familiar one: Another loss -- their third straight and their ninth through the first 13 games. And another scrum of reporters asking whether the Angels are putting too much pressure on themselves to deliver on the grand expectations.

"It's the Major Leagues. If you can't handle pressure, you should bag groceries or something," starter C.J. Wilson said after taking the loss in a 4-2 defeat at Angel Stadium. "We don't really care what anybody says or what you guys write. We're just trying to play the best baseball we can. When we don't play our brand of baseball, we're going to get beat. The games that we've played good baseball, we've won. The games where we play bad baseball, we lose. It's pretty simple."

The Angels got some good on Thursday night -- Albert Pujols hit three scorching doubles and Wilson had good stuff through six frames.

But they got too much bad -- Wilson committed a critical throwing error that led to a decisive three-run fourth, and the Angels went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left a season-high 11 runners on base.

With that, the Halos lost three of four to the visiting A's, and have dropped each of their first four series of the season. It was their first home loss when allowing three or fewer hits since 1990.

The Halos' 4-9 start is their worst through 13 games since the expansion year of 1961.

"To be a championship ballclub, you have to go through some tough times," said Pujols, who raised his average to .296 but remains homerless through 54 at-bats. "I think that's how I look at it. We have really, really good talent and quality players here. We know things can be better, and they're not. It's not because we're not trying. We're trying to have good, quality at-bats, and things just aren't going our way. That's how it is."

Wilson gave up four runs (three earned) in a six-inning outing that saw him scatter just two hits but walk three and throw 112 pitches -- 31 of which came in the three-run fourth.

Wilson, making his first home start after going 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA through his first two outings, began the inning with back-to-back walks. The next batter, Seth Smith, hit a swinging bunt that Wilson short-armed to first base, causing the ball to roll past Pujols and put two runs on the board.

"It was a fairly easy play," Wilson said. "I just tried to make an easy throw, but I took it too easy and threw it short. It wasn't a short-arm, it was just kind of a changeup, just tried to lob it in there. It just didn't get there."

"That was the key play of the game," A's manager Bob Melvin added. "It gave us some momentum, and we were able to hold on with good pitching."

Two batters later, Kila Ka'aihue hit an RBI single to make it 4-0.

The Angels made it a two-run game in the bottom half of the fourth, on an RBI double by Vernon Wells and a scorching RBI single by Mark Trumbo off A's starter Tommy Milone.

Then they began missing chances.

In the sixth, against the A's bullpen, the Angels put runners on first and third with none out. But Erick Aybar -- who committed two errors and was hitting eighth the day he signed his four-year extension -- grounded into a fielder's choice, Peter Bourjos struck out and Maicer Izturis grounded out to shortstop to end the threat.

In the seventh, Pujols hit a one-out double and Torii Hunter walked behind him, but righty Ryan Cook got Wells to fly out lazily to right field, then struck out Trumbo to keep the Angels scoreless once again.

"The silver lining is that we pressured them, put guys on base," Scioscia said. "Now you have to get the clutch hit with runners in scoring position that we didn't really get tonight."

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