NEW YORK — A streak that began in September and spanned nine months ended Thursday night.
Gary Pettis had stolen 24 consecutive bases, eight shy of the American League record, when he was thrown out attempting to steal second in the sixth inning of the Yankees' 3-1 win over the Angels.
Making only his second start since missing eight straight games with a pulled groin muscle, Pettis was the victim of a pitchout called by Yankee Manager Billy Martin and a perfect throw by catcher Butch Wynegar.
It was the first time Pettis had been thrown out since Sept. 19, but he actually had reason to celebrate.
He was one of only five Angels to reach base and one of only three to do it with a hit, which has become a major accomplishment of late.
The area code for Anaheim may be 714, but if you're trying to find the Angels dial .237, which represents the American League's lowest team-batting average. If General Manager Mike Port's pursuit of pitching help lasts any longer, it may become a pursuit of hitting help.
The Angels have scored only eight runs while losing four of five games with the Yankees this year, and they have just 13 hits in losing three in a row.
Baltimore's Scott McGregor beat them with a six-hitter at Anaheim Stadium on Monday. Phil Niekro and Rich Bordi combined on a four-hitter here Wednesday, and Joe Cowley and Dave Righetti combined on a three-hitter Thursday.
Reggie Jackson, who had failed to start seven straight games because of a hamstring strain, returned to the lineup Thursday. He drew one of three Angel walks but also had three of his team's eight strikeouts. Righetti struck out four, which is pretty good considering he only pitched 1 innings.
Cowley, who went 6 innings in a 6-1 win over the Angels at Anaheim May 18, went 7 in this one, allowing only a single by Craig Gerber in the third and another by Pettis in the sixth. Jack Howell, who was playing third base in place of the injured Doug DeCinces, hit his first major league home run with two out in the eighth.
That brought on Righetti, but it was too little and too late to save Ron Romanick from an undeserved defeat, only his second against six wins.
Romanick allowed just five hits, including:
--A fourth-inning double by Willie Randolph, who took third on a wild pitch and scored on Don Mattingly's infield single.
--A fifth-inning homer by left fielder Don Pasqua, who was making his major league debut after being recalled from Columbus earlier Thursday to replace the injured Henry Cotto. A crowd of 17,226 rewarded Pasqua with a standing ovation, summoning him from the dugout for a wave of his cap.
--An eighth-inning homer by shortstop Andre Robertson, who was recalled from Columbus Wednesday and had not hit a major league homer since April 26, 1983.
This was enough to give the Yankees their 10th straight win at Yankee Stadium, where they are 13-4 overall and undefeated in nine games under their new manager, who three times previously was their old manager.
It would have been enough to drop the Angels out of first place in the West for the first time since April 25 except that Kansas City remained in a tie with the Angels by losing to Chicago.
Said Angel Manager Gene Mauch: "I'd like to be 15 games over .500 and breezing along, sure . . . but I'm not torn up that we're only five over.
"I'm not concerned about the standings on May 30, though it wasn't long ago we were eight over with a chance to build on it.
"I mean, being patient isn't my nature, it's the toughest thing for me to handle, but I have to do it."
Mauch said he would have a meeting about patience in Detroit tonight. He said he would tell his regulars that some of them have been trying to do too much.
"You can't do but what you can do," he said.
Which is why, with his team losing, 1-0, in the fifth inning and both Jackson and Ruppert Jones on after walks, Mauch disdained Little Ball. He did not call for a sacrifice, and the Angels' only threat ended on three quick outs.
"I could have had the world's best bunter up there, but I didn't think Reggie's leg was sound enough yet to reach third no matter what kind of bunter I had," Mauch said.
"You shouldn't play people when they're not 100%, but I was hoping he'd hit a home run or three-run double. If it had been the seventh I'd have pinch run for him."
It suddenly seems as if all there is is hope for a team with only one regular--Jones at .277--over .270 and one other--Juan Beniquez at .269--on that horizon.