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Leftwich Not Worried About Lack of Support : Angels: In his second outing, he pitches well against Kansas City. But again, his teammates don't help him much.

August 05, 1993|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — Angel pitcher Phil Leftwich scarfed down his postgame dinner Wednesday night, shrugged and said better days will come. He's not worried about a lack of support, not yet anyway.

"He's pitched two winning-type games and he knows it," Manager Buck Rodgers said. "He's not going to panic."

Leftwich could have grumbled something about bad luck, could have mentioned the names of David Cone and Jim Abbott and stomped off into the night, a tough-luck loser for the second consecutive start.

But he didn't.

If Leftwich had any feelings of anger or disappointment they didn't show after he pitched seven solid innings in a 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Anaheim Stadium.

"As long as I throw the ball pretty well, I know the runs will come," said Leftwich, who is 0-2 with a 2.57 earned-run average in two major league starts. "Actually, I'm as confident as I have been all year. I tried to stick with the same game plan I had in triple-A."

So far, he seems to be holding up his end of the bargain. The same can't be said of Angel batters, who left him high and dry for the second start in a row.

In his major league debut last Thursday against Oakland, he gave up one run on seven hits, striking out three and walking none. Trouble was, the Angels couldn't string together any significant hitting and Leftwich's fine outing went to waste in a 2-1 loss.

Facing Kansas City on Wednesday, Leftwich gave up two runs in the first inning, kept the Royals quiet until the seventh, then watched Angel bats go punchless in the late innings against Cone and reliever Jeff Montgomery.

"Anytime I can get into the sixth or seventh inning and we're in the ballgame, I've done a pretty good job," Leftwich said. "I'll just try to get a win next week."

If Cone and Montgomery hadn't kept the Angels off balance, and if the Angels hadn't run themselves out of two possible scoring chances, the outcome might have been different.

Leftwich and Cone, who is 8-10 and has had the poorest offensive support in the American League this season, were dead even entering the seventh inning. The Royals scored twice off Leftwich in the first inning and the Angels rallied to tie with two runs in the second.

In the seventh, Leftwich gave up a leadoff single to Chris Gwynn, got out the next two batters, but Jose Lind singled up the middle to drive in Gwynn with what turned out to be the winning run.

Leftwich almost snared Lind's hard-hit grounder to get out of the inning. He missed the ball with his glove, then said he tried to stop it with his foot, but that didn't work either.

He got out of the inning without further damage, and Rodgers replaced him with Steve Frey to start the eighth.

"I didn't want him to go back around against (George) Brett and those guys," Rodgers said. "It's like Abbott last year. He's got no control over the offense."

Last season, Abbott had the least support of any AL pitcher.

"(Leftwich) gave up the two runs in the first and he wasn't very sharp," Rodgers continued. "Then he pitched very well until Lind got the two-out hit in the seventh.

"Leftwich pitched another quality game, but he was up against a quality pitcher."

Cone got just a little more support and came away a winner.

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