BASEBALL: Absence of offense ruins the Angels ace’s third chance at his 17th victory. By Doug Padilla STAFF WRITER BALTIMORE – Just like that, the Angels’ well ran dry. Their account was overdrawn. Their tank hit empty. After scoring 28 runs in two games against the Baltimore Orioles, they couldn’t find their way to home plate Thursday in a 5-0 defeat. Somebody should have left bread crumbs along the path. The main stumbling block was Orioles pitcher Jon Leicester, who was making his second start of the season. The right-hander, who last faced the Angels when he was a member of the Chicago Cubs in 2004, gave up four hits in 52/3 innings. James Hoey, Chad Bradford and Jamie Walker held the Angels down the rest of the way. Despite the defeat, the Angels still maintain the largest division lead in baseball as they close in on the American League West title. “I wasn’t expecting this,” said Orlando Cabrera, who had one of the Angels’ five hits. “The kid (Leicester) threw pretty good pitches and (catcher Paul) Bako knows us a lot. He was mixing it up pretty good.” After getting crushed with their regulars, the Orioles went to a young lineup that produced. Luis Hernandez was at shortstop for Miguel Tejada. Scott Moore played at third and Brandon Fahey was at second. “They’re going to play hard no matter who’s out there and they have some young kids with some talent,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “But the game tonight was really won by Leicester throwing a good game, Bako catching a good game and their bullpen held. A young lineup was neither here nor there. They played good defense, made all the plays and pitched well.” While scoring 18 runs in a game typically is a good thing, Angels starter John Lackey is getting skeptical about it. Twice the Angels have put 18 runs on the board the day before a Lackey start and both times they have come back with a weak encore. When the Angels scored 18 against the New York Yankees on Aug. 21, they followed it with just two in a Lackey defeat to the New York Yankees. They put up 18 against the Orioles on Wednesday and then threw a doughnut up on the board a day later. “There’s only so much you can do, man,” Lackey said. “I felt pretty good. I felt like I pretty much got the max I could have gotten out of it. I should have held them to one run in the third.” The Orioles scored twice in that inning, one on a Moore double and the other on a seeing-eye single up the middle by Tike Redman. “That was a 10-hopper that got up the middle,” Lackey said. “Did they steer the ground ball?” In his last three starts, Lackey had solid chances at earning his 17th victory, but it wasn’t meant to be. On Sept. 2, the bullpen blew a one-run lead over the Texas Rangers as Scot Shields gave up four runs. Last Friday at home, Francisco Rodriguez blew a save in the ninth inning to ruin Lackey’s chance at victory. The Angels rallied to win it in 10 innings. The offense was on the hook for this one as Lackey had a solid effort by allowing three runs and nine hits in seven innings. His chance at a first 20-victory season is long gone. “It’s a shame for us that we can’t score when he pitches,” Cabrera said. “He always keeps us in the game. We all want him at least to get a chance to win a Cy Young. I feel pretty bad about it.” Lackey remains stuck on 16 victories and has watched the Cy Young field sprint on by him. Even teammate Kelvim Escobar has better Cy Young odds with his team-high 17 victories. The Red Sox’s Josh Beckett and the Cleveland Indians’ C.C. Sabathia have become the Cy Young favorites. “The only thing John can control is really how he executes a pitch,” Scioscia said. [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!