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Latest Pettis-Downing Run-In Takes Toll : Center Fielder Carried Off With Bruise Near Knee in 6-2 Angel Win

May 07, 1986|MIKE PENNER | Times Staff Writer

BOSTON — Rain delayed the start of Tuesday's game for 23 minutes before the clouds finally lifted, as did the Angels' losing streak. But the team's penchant for a disaster a day pressed on.

After losing their last four games, the Angels beat the Boston Red Sox, 6-2, before 14,072 fans at Fenway Park, but only after Gary Pettis and Brian Downing collided in the outfield for the second time in four days.

This time, Downing and Pettis didn't joke about it afterward, as they had Saturday at Milwaukee. This time, only Downing walked away.

Pettis hurt his left knee when it smashed against Downing's right knee. The center fielder was left writhing in the dirt on the warning track and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. He was taken to nearby Beth Israel Hospital for X-rays.

Dr. Arthur Pappas, the Red Sox team physician, reported no evidence of a break but said that Pettis had suffered a severe muscle bruise above the knee. Pettis will be examined today in Anaheim by Angel team doctor Lewis Yocum.

Pettis was back in the clubhouse when the game ended, his left leg sheathed in a soft brace. He was also getting around on crutches and was not in the best of moods.

"Part of the game, I guess," he said. "That's the second time I've collided with Brian. The first time I ran into him, luckily I wasn't injured. This time . . . I don't see it as a serious injury.

"It couldn't have been avoided," he continued. "No one was at fault. It's hard to yell, 'I got it!' when the ball is getting blown around by the wind."

Both Pettis and Downing said that without the wind, Rich Gedman's fourth-inning drive would have been a deep but routine fly ball to Pettis.

However, the wind pulled the ball away from Pettis. Downing, who was moving in to back up Pettis, suddenly had to make the play on the ball, which was being blown right at him.

Downing wound up catching it--just as the two collided.

"I was running at three-quarters speed to back up if the ball bounced off the wall," Downing said.

"When he (Pettis) turned his back, the wind pushed the ball away from him. I started pushing hard. I didn't see him. I was more concerned with the two runners (Boston) had on base."

Angel Manager Gene Mauch said, referring to Pettis: "One of the hard parts of the body got him today. You're not hitting a load of pumpkins when you run into Brian Downing. I'm getting tired of seeing it--and I imagine Gary Pettis is tired of it, too."

Pettis went down, grimacing and clutching his knee.

"I ran out there hoping," said Mauch, who huddled over Pettis along with the Angel trainers. "He got a bad bruise.

"Right now, he has no control of his quadriceps muscle. It's so sore, he can't tense it up or flex it. We'll take the X-rays home and let Dr. Yocum analyze them.

"I just don't think it's more than a bruise. And I don't think that's my heart speaking."

Mauch felt more positive about the other noteworthy event of the day--the end of the club's four-game losing streak.

"I know one thing," Mauch said. "The players needed to win again--bad--and they went out and got it. The manager could use one, too."

The Angels got it on 6 strong innings by starter Jim Slaton, who held Boston to six hits and the two runs; on Doug Corbett's first save since June 28, 1984, and on Pettis' first home run since last June 1.

An inning before the collision, Pettis delivered his annual home run--in typical Pettis fashion. He hooked the ball just inside the foul pole along the short right-field fence. In any park other than Fenway, the ball would have fallen harmlessly into foul territory.

But Fenway's right-field foul pole is just 302 feet from home plate, and Pettis' hit, with Jerry Narron on base, was just long enough to give the Angels a 2-0 lead in the third.

The Red Sox rallied to tie on a sacrifice fly by Bill Buckner in the fourth and a run-scoring double by Dwight Evans in the seventh. Terry Forster replaced Slaton to get the final out of the seventh, and that one out was enough to earn Forster (3-0) the victory. Rob Wilfong singled home Dick Schofield in the eighth inning for the decisive run.

Corbett came on to pitch the last two innings, allowing just an infield single.

And so, the Angels finally come straggling home. They went 5-6 on an 11-day swing that seemed like 111 days. Since leaving Anaheim on April 24, the Angels have witnessed collapsing domes, fights with umpires, fights with fans, home runs that may-not-have-been, two player ejections, two player collisions and their standard assortment of injuries.

"It hasn't been without a little excitement here and there," Mauch said.

"It's been weird," third baseman Doug DeCinces said. "I knew it was going to be weird when I first looked at the schedule and saw us playing in April and May in Minnesota, Toronto, Milwaukee and Boston. All that cold weather."

On this trip, the weather was the least of the Angels' troubles.

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