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Guerrero launches two long homers as Angels beat Blue Jays 4-3

TORONTO - Two big swings from Vladimir Guerrero and too many men left on base made the difference in another disappointing loss for the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.


TORONTO - Two big swings from Vladimir Guerrero and too many men left on base made the difference in another disappointing loss for the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.

Starter Shaun Marcum didn't find his groove fast enough and the entire Blue Jays offence couldn't match the potent bat of Guerrero, who smacked a pair of long home runs to provide all the offence for the Los Angeles Angels in a 4-3 victory over Toronto.

After a solo shot in the first, Guerrero's three-run blast in the third inning stood up as the difference. the two-homer performance was sorely needed for Guerrero, who entered the game with just one home run in his previous 22 games.

For his part, Marcum wasn't asking for any pitches back.

"He's probably one of the best bad-ball hitters in the game and I threw two pretty good pitches, on pitcher's pitches, and he hit them out of the park, so you've just got to tip your hat to him," said the right-hander, who fell to 4-3 on the season with the loss.

Toronto manager John Gibbons agreed.

"Guerrero, he can do that to you," he said. "He's so aggressive at the plate, if you're off with your location, that doesn't matter to him, he can get the barrel on anything."

Guerrero's first multi-homer game of the season, and 34th of his career, made a winner out of Angels starter Jon Garland (5-3), who improved to 6-0 lifetime in Toronto.

The loss dropped the Jays (23-25) to 10-11 at home this year.

After hurling 58 pitches through the first three innings and falling behind 4-1, Marcum found his rhythm and retired 12 in a row at one point. However, the Blue Jays offence couldn't quite erase the deficit despite banging out 11 hits. Toronto stranded 10 men on base Wednesday, one night after loading the bases in the eighth and ninth innings of a 3-1 loss to the Angels.

While Gibbons wasn't keen on rehashing his team's offensive struggles, Fredericton's Matt Stairs offered a simple remedy for the lack of clutch swings.

"We've got to get our heads out of our (butts) with men in scoring position late in the game and that's the bottom line," said the DH, who had an RBI single in the first but hit into an inning-ending double play in the seventh. "I think if we take the same relaxed swings as the first few innings in the seventh, eighth and ninth, we'll be all right and we can turn this thing around."

The table was set in the seventh as Aaron Hill stood at third and Alex Rios at first with none out and the Jays down by one. But reliever Jose Arredondo wiggled out of his own jam by whiffing clean-up hitter Scott Rolen, then inducing a grounder from Stairs for the double play.

The 20,163 in attendance were hopeful again in the eighth when Shannon Stewart and Gregg Zaun reached base with one out, only to see Marco Scutaro waste another promising opportunity with a double play.

Francisco Rodriguez tossed a scoreless ninth for his major-league-leading 19th save.

Toronto wouldn't have been trailing in the late innings had it been able to come up with a timely hit in the fifth or sixth. After scoring single runs in each inning, the Jays left two men on base each time to kill the rallies.

First, Toronto made it 4-2 in the fifth when Rios, mired in an awful 13-for-79 streak entering the game, came through with a two-out, opposite-field single to score Scutaro from second. Rolen then grounded to short to end the threat.

It appeared as though the Jays were getting to Garland in the sixth, as even their outs were noisy. Zaun drove a hard grounder off the pitcher that caromed to the outfield between second and third, cashing Lyle Overbay from second. The inning ended, when Brad Wilkerson's liner was grabbed on a nice play by first baseman Casey Kotchman.

The Jays' first run came in the bottom of the first after Guerrero's homer in the top half of the inning staked the Angels (28-20) to a 1-0 lead.

Rios, who had a pair of singles in the game, drew a two-out walk and eventually came around to score on a Stairs single to right.

Marcum, who left after six and two-thirds, got into danger by issuing back-to-back walks to Chone Figgins and Gary Matthews Jr. with one out in the third. Guerrero, who entered the game 2-for-6 lifetime against Marcum, stepped to the plate and crushed the first pitch he saw over the wall in left field for his fifth homer of the season, and first since May 12.

"This was a tough loss, you go out there and pitch well and two pitches get away, or not even away, Vlad's just a good hitter and hits them in the seats and you end up losing the game, so it's a tough loss," Marcum said.

Notes: Originally expected to come off the disabled list tomorrow, Jays shortstop David Eckstein was tender in his first rehab assignment with class A Dunedin on Monday night and will remain out of the lineup for at least the next couple of days with a strained right hip flexor. Figgins was playing his first game since coming off the 15-day DL for Anaheim. Angels pitcher Joe Saunders has a cold, so Ervin Santana will get the start Thursday in his place.

 
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