By Sam Bush

Is this what the Phillies bargained for when they enticed A. J. Burnett out of semi-retirement with $16 million?

Burnett had things under control last night in Anaheim before the sixth inning sunk him in a 4-3 loss to the Angels. He had allowed one run and two hits through five innings, but the Angels scored three runs in the sixth to take the lead and send the Phillies to their 68th loss of the season.

“Yeah, I’m very discouraged,” Burnett said. “I’m not going to lie. I’m not going to be happy. Man, I’ve got to bite my tongue. I’m a positive person, so the sun is going to come up. I’m going to figure out a way to battle and grind. That’s all I can say.”

Burnett allowed five hits, four runs, four walks and hit one batter in six innings to drop to 6-13 with a 4.35 ERA. He struck out four. The loss did not matter, in regard to the postseason race — the Phillies are far removed from that — but Burnett has a player option for 2015 worth $10 million that will kick in when he makes his next start (his 27th of the season), and he can reach as much as $12.75 million if he makes 32 starts.

“I don’t feel snakebit,” Burnett said. “It’s in my control. Lock in. The season is not over. It definitely hasn’t gone the wanted I wanted it to, or anybody else has wanted it to.”

Burnett went 2-1 with a 2.06 ERA through seven starts through May 3, but 4-8 with a 4.63 ERA in his next 15 starts through July 23. Burnett threw eight scoreless innings July 23 against the Giants at Citizens Bank Park, but the 37-year-old also threw 131 pitches wrapped around a 59-minute rain delay.

That was the second-highest pitch count for Burnett in his career. He threw a career-high 132 as a 25-year-old in 2002.

He is 0-4 with an 8.20 ERA in four starts since.

The Phillies took a 2-1 lead into the sixth thanks to run-scoring singles from Marlon Byrd in the third and Jimmy Rollins in the fourth. But Angels first baseman Albert Pujols hit a one-out double down the left-field line to get things started in the sixth.

Burnett hit Josh Hamilton with a first-pitch curveball to put runners on first and second, and Erick Aybar walked on five pitches to load the bases. Howie Kendrick followed and dropped a ball on the right-field line to score two runs and give the Angels a 3-2 lead.


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