ANAHEIM -- A futile night at the plate and another hiccup from the bullpen felled the Angels on Saturday night, as rookie Justin Anderson yielded a go-ahead, three-run home run to Steve Pearce in the ninth inning that lifted the Blue Jays to a 4-1 win at Angel Stadium.Luis Valbuena
ANAHEIM -- A futile night at the plate and another hiccup from the bullpen felled the Angels on Saturday night, as rookie Justin Anderson yielded a go-ahead, three-run home run to Steve Pearce in the ninth inning that lifted the Blue Jays to a 4-1 win at Angel Stadium.
Luis Valbuena homered to tie the game at 1 in the eighth, but the Blue Jays rallied after Aledmys Diaz delivered a two-out single and Devon Travis walked to set up Pearce's three-run blast just inside the left-field foul pole. It was the first home run Anderson had allowed since May 11.
"He just left a slider over the heart of the plate to Pearce, and that changed, obviously, the game for us," manager Mike Scioscia said.
The decisive blow came after the Angels squandered a number of scoring opportunities. They outhit the Blue Jays, 9-8, but they finished 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base, bringing an end to their three-game winning streak.
The Angels' offense, which was without Jose Pujols, Ian Kinsler and Martin Maldonado, was initially stymied by Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman, who worked five scoreless innings in his first start since landing on the disabled list with right shoulder fatigue on May 9. The Angels had Stroman on the ropes on multiple occasions, but struggled with situational hitting and were blanked through the first seven innings of the game.
"If you look at this game just from one perspective, we had some opportunities early," Scioscia said. "We couldn't get that hit. We had some runners in scoring position early, had some good looks. Give Stroman credit, he made some pitches to get out of some jams."
David Fletcher opened the game with a single and advanced to third on a base hit by Justin Upton to put runners on the corners with one out, but Stroman struck out Valbuena and coaxed a groundout from Andrelton Simmons to dodge trouble.
The Angels' best chance came in the third, when Fletcher and Michael Trout singled and Upton walked to load the bases with one out. That brought up Valbuena, who flied out to shallow center field. Fletcher attempted to score from third on the play, but he was thrown out at the plate by Kevin Pillar to complete an inning-ending double play.
"I didn't see the throw," Fletcher said, "but it got me out."
Rookie Jaime Barria entered Saturday having walked four batters over his previous six outings, but he matched that total over five innings against the Blue Jays to set a career high. He departed after allowing one run on four hits, striking out five and throwing 93 pitches, 49 for strikes.
"I was throwing a few more fastballs, so I think it was that," Barria said of his command issues. "Even so, I made some adjustments with my fastball and I didn't issue a walk after the [fourth]."
Barria allowed at least one batter to reach base in each of his five innings, but he limited the damage by holding the Blue Jays to 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and inducing a pair of timely double plays. In the second, Barria issued back-to-back walks to Russell Martin and Randal Grichuk to put a pair of runners on with one out, but he wriggled from trouble by striking out Diaz and Travis to end the inning.
Teoscar Hernandez inflicted the only damage against Barria in the third, launching a solo home run to left-center field to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. Toronto came back to threaten in the fourth, as Pillar opened the inning with a double and Martin walked to put runners on first and second with no outs. Still, Barria retired the next three batters to escape the jam.
"He battled," Scioscia said. "There was a lot of traffic. He had to work really hard to get out of some jams."
The Angels finally broke through in the eighth after Valbuena hammered a high fastball from Seunghwan Oh to right field, punctuating the clutch blast with an epic bat flip. It was Valbuena's ninth home run of the season and his third of this series.
Saturday marked the third time the Angels have surrendered a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning or later this season.
Right-hander Felix Pena (0-0, 5.40 ERA) will make his second MLB start on Sunday as the Angels close out their four-game series with the Blue Jays at 1:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Toronto will counter with right-hander Sam Gaviglio (2-2, 3.75 ERA). A converted reliever, Pena gave up one run over four innings against the D-backs in his first MLB start on Tuesday. Pena last faced the Blue Jays on Aug. 19, 2017, when he pitched one scoreless inning in relief.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.