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Strop's struggles continue as Angels hand O's loss

BALTIMORE - Pedro Strop's first true test since coming off the disabled list didn't bring about positive results for the Baltimore Orioles.

The maligned reliever entered Wednesday's game in the seventh inning with a two-run lead and a pair of inherited runners. He left the mound to a chorus of boos, saddled with another ineffective performance.

Strop's wild ride continued, and the Orioles failed to post their first three-game sweep of the season as the Los Angeles Angels scored six in the seventh and won 9-5 in front of 25,964 at Camden Yards.

Baltimore won the series but ended on a loss centered around Strop, who only made it through one-third of an inning and allowed four runs on three hits against five batters.

The Angels (28-38) sent 10 batters to the plate in the seventh and sent Strop (0-3) to his third loss of the season.

He's carrying a 16.20 ERA over his last seven appearances (nine earned runs on nine hits in five innings).

"Not good. Only thing I can say," Strop said. "I couldn't do the job."

Things unraveled for the reliever from the start. Strop came on for starter Jason Hammel with two on and no outs and a 4-2 lead, but he failed to field a grounder from Hank Conger that could have been a double play. Erick Aybar followed by ripping a pitch into the gap right-center that cleared the bases, and when the relay throw skidded past Manny Machado at third and out of play, Aybar trotted home and the Angels led 6-4.

Three batters later, LA slugger Albert Pujols smacked a two-run homer to left-center as the fans became restless.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter came out for Strop, who made the slow walk to the dugout amid the jeers.

"He's just not getting results," Showalter said. "He understands it. Nobody cares more about pitching well for this team than Pete. And it's frustrating for us because he's a pitch away, and little things like that seem to ... just can't catch something going your way."

Strop was one of the more reliable pieces of the bullpen last season, but things have certainly changed this year.

"I mean, yeah, it's hard to be in that kind of situation," Strop said. "I'm just going to keep working hard and get back on track as soon as possible."

Baltimore (37-29) had won three in a row before Wednesday and tried for its first sweep of the Angels at home since Aug. 3-5, 2010. The Orioles led 3-2 in the fourth when Chris Davis launched a solo homer to deep center, his 21st of the season. It was Davis' first RBI since June 2.

Adam Jones added another run in the sixth with his 14th homer of the season, a solo blast to left-center.

And with Hammel pitching well enough, it seemed as if the Orioles were on their way to another victory.

He took some of the blame for Wednesday's loss.

"Close ballgames like that, small things get magnified," said Hammel, who allowed four runs and seven hits in six-plus innings. "It was a pretty big situation there in the seventh. I put the first two guys on. Put Petey in a tough position, so that's what it boils down to."

Jerome Williams earned the win (5-2) despite giving up nine hits and four runs in six innings. Of course, the Los Angeles righty benefited from his offense's big inning and Strop's inability to get outs.

"It's frustrating because we know how good he can be," Davis said about his teammate. "It makes you think a little bit about what's going on in his head, whether it's fatigue from throwing so much already or if it's something else. But when he's on, he's one of the best guys in the game. I think we all have confidence in him that he'll get back to rare form and be as dominant as he can be."

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