ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Angels picked the absolute worst time for an old problem to pop up again. Just when it seemed as if their shaky bullpen had settled in for the stretch run, it imploded in untimely fashion in a disheartening 9-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners on a day they could've gained ground on the wild-card-leading Oakland A's and the idle Baltimore Orioles.
Dan Haren gave the Angels 5 1/3 workmanlike innings, but didn't seem to have his best stuff and was pulled after throwing just 80 pitches. It seemed like a good idea at the time as rookie Nick Maronde pitched the Angels out of a jam in the sixth inning. But the bullpen imploded after that, giving up five runs in the last three frames to put the game out of reach no matter how many times the Angels' offense tried to rally.
Maronde was charged with a run, Garrett Richards was charged for three runs in just two-thirds of an inning and LaTroy Hawkins, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 18, was lit up for two runs in the ninth inning after the Angels had rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth.
It was a sloppy game all around. Officially, only two of the Mariners' nine runs were unearned -- off errors by shortstop Erick Aybar (fifth inning) and Hawkins (ninth inning) -- but this was not a well played game by either team.
Pujols still providing: Albert Pujols smacked another two doubles on Thursday, giving him 48 on the season, his highest total since 2004 when he hit 51.
Scoreboard watching: About the only bright side of Thursday's loss was that the Angels didn't lose any ground to the Athletics, who also lost on Thursday, 9-7 in Texas. The idle Orioles gained a half game on each of them.
Morales warming: First baseman Kendrys Morales never got back to his pre-injury levels this season, but he's closing out a pretty solid comeback year nonetheless. Morales went 2-for-4 with two doubles on Thursday, making him 19-for-61 (.311) with six doubles, a triple, four home runs and nine RBIs over his last 16 games.
Richards rocked: Reliever Garrett Richards was awful in a spot where the Angels needed him to come up big. The right-hander was charged for three runs in the top of the seventh, as the Mariners extended their lead to 7-2. Richards had struck out the side in an appearance on Tuesday, his 12th scoreless outing in his last 14 appearances. But he didn't have it Thursday at it cost the Angels dearly.
Haren just OK: Richards was in the game because starter Dan Haren was pulled after just 80 pitches. A short outing, but this time of year, if a guy isn't crisp, he's getting a quick hook. Haren allowed three runs -- two earned -- over 5 1/3rd innings before giving way to lefty Nick Maronde.
Trout skids to the finish: He may still win the AL MVP award, but Mike Trout hasn't exactly been coming up big for the Angels during this final desperate playoff push. Trout went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Thursday, making him just 5-for-30 during this nine-game homestand.