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Ohtani swats 2 homers in wild back-and-forth battle

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ANAHEIM — It was a wild game that saw two-way star Shohei Ohtani homer twice, Taylor Ward homer in his first start in right field since suffering a neck stinger on May 20 and Max Stassi hit a go-ahead solo blast in the seventh.

But it ended with yet another defeat for the Angels, whose bullpen imploded for a third straight game in a crazy 11-10 loss to the Blue Jays in the series finale on Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium. It marked the fifth straight loss for the Halos, who have dropped nine of their past 12 games.

It was a familiar story for the Angels, who couldn’t hold a lead in the seventh on Friday, couldn’t protect two late leads on Saturday and again couldn’t keep the Blue Jays at bay late in the game on Sunday.

“We’ve played well enough to win those three games,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “A bunch of guys who had been really good, collectively, and all of a sudden, it’s difficult. I don’t have any answers for that. There’s been a lot of support and conversations. You normally know what to expect, and right now, we don’t know what to expect.”

Ohtani, who hadn’t gone deep since May 22, got it started with a solo shot off right-hander José Berríos in the first inning. And Luis Rengifo added a Little League homer in the second, hitting a triple and scoring on an errant throw to third. Toronto, though, scored six runs (five earned) off left-hander Patrick Sandoval through three innings and the Angels looked headed toward a lopsided loss.

But Ohtani helped get them back in the game with a two-run shot in the third off Berríos, marking his ninth career multihomer game and his third this season. And the Angels tied it on a two-run single by Stassi. It kept Sandoval from getting pegged with the loss, but he was frustrated he couldn’t pitch deeper to help a depleted bullpen that also had Jimmy Herget unavailable due to a fingernail issue.

“It was very frustrating,” said Sandoval, who saw his ERA rise from 1.79 to 2.70. “I even asked [Maddon] if I could go one more inning. But he said no, because he didn’t like the 40 pitches in the [third] inning.”

Ward gave the Halos a two-run lead in the fourth with his two-run shot, as he showed his weakened right shoulder isn’t affecting him at the plate. He also provided another run with an RBI double in the sixth to give the Angels a three-run cushion.

“I felt good because we had the bullpen set up pretty well,” Maddon said. “But it just didn’t work out. We did a lot of good things the last couple days and that can’t be lost in this, but we’ve just had a difficult time with the bullpen.”

Disaster awaited the bullpen yet again, as right-hander Oliver Ortega threw a scoreless sixth, but then he came back out for the seventh and struggled. He loaded the bases with nobody out and exited with one out, with right-hander Ryan Tepera replacing him. But Tepera continued to have control problems, as he walked in a run and allowed an RBI single to Raimel Tapia before walking in the tying run.

“To be honest, it’s unacceptable,” Tepera said. “Just a lack of command and walking guys — that can’t happen. Just not getting the job done right now. Something has to change.”

Stassi looked to be the hero with his solo homer in the seventh, but Tepera couldn’t hold the lead in the eighth. He surrendered a game-tying homer to Bo Bichette before exiting for lefty José Quijada, who was making his first appearance since April 7 after missing time with a right oblique strain. Quijada was greeted with a double by Alejandro Kirk on his first pitch back and allowed a go-ahead RBI double to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. with two outs.

The Angels couldn’t score in the ninth, and they head to New York to face the Yankees for a pivotal three-game series beginning on Tuesday that doesn’t figure to be any easier, as the Yanks have the best record in the American League.

“Our hitters put up 10 runs,” Tepera said. “Any day we put up 10 runs, we should win the game. They kept battling and crawling back. When Stassi hit the home run, it’s time to go out and get a shutdown inning. But I didn’t get the job done, so we have to figure something out. We have to change some things.”

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