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Clemens Can't Handle the Angels' Curtis : Baseball: Center fielder has another big game to help team defeat Boston Red Sox, 6-4.


Chad Curtis never has cared much for the glare of the spotlight, which is good, because it never has cared much for Curtis.

He was first overlooked when he couldn't get a college scholarship. Then he was overlooked when major league baseball made him a 45th-round draft choice. And he was overlooked in discussions about the top center fielders in the American League.

Well, guess who's talking now?

Curtis, shrugging off a bitterly disappointing first half, suddenly has taken the Angels and is carrying them, leading them to a 6-4 victory Tuesday night over the Boston Red Sox before 20,335 fans at Anaheim Stadium.

Forget the fact that they were facing Roger Clemens, who has punished the Angels like no other team, defeating them 20 times in his career.

Curtis treated him as if he were simply a hard-throwing batting practice pitcher, hitting a two-run home run in the fifth inning, a run-scoring single in the seventh, and drawing two walks.

Curtis, who ended the first half batting .249 with seven homers and 34 RBIs, has become the Red Sox's worst enemy. He has reached base eight consecutive times, going six for six with four runs, a double, three homers, six runs batted in, and two walks.

"I don't try to explain it," Curtis said. "I just want it continue. I know I can play a lot better than I did in the first half, and I hope to prove it.

"There's a lot of time left, and by no means are we out of this thing."

The Angels (41-54), who have defeated the Red Sox four consecutive games for the first time since 1991, moved to within five games of the division-leading Texas Rangers in the American League West. Perhaps most important, they finally proved to themselves that they can beat Clemens.

Clemens (8-5) has dominated the Angels. He was 2-0 with a 0.60 earned-run average against them this season, and was 4-1 with a 1.38 ERA against the Angels in his last six starts at Anaheim Stadium.

This night was different.

For the first time in their four matchups, Angel starter Mark Langston was the dominant pitcher. Langston yielded four hits and three earned runs in seven innings, defeating Clemens for the first time in his career.

The Angels produced seven hits and five runs (four earned) in 6 2/3 innings off Clemens. It was the most runs the Angels have scored off Clemens since May 26, 1989, but the victory was preserved in the eighth inning by rookie right fielder Jim Edmonds.

Trailing, 5-3, in the eighth, the Red Sox came back with a leadoff homer by Andre Dawson against reliever Mark Leiter. Tom Brunansky struck out. But Wes Chamberlain, who homered in the second inning to extend the Angels' club-record streak of 12 games in which they have yielded a home run, followed with a double into the right field corner.

When Red Sox Manager Butch Hobson went to his bench to summon left-handed pinch-hitter Scott Cooper, Angel Manager Marcel Lachemann countered with left-hander Bob Patterson.

Patterson struck out Cooper for the second out, and with right-handed catcher Damon Berryhill coming to the plate, Lachemann decided to leave Patterson in the game rather than summon closer Joe Grahe. After all, Berryhill had a career .167 batting average against Patterson.

Yet, much to Lachemann's chagrin, he watched Berryhill slap a hard single to right field. Pinch-runner Lee Tinsley was waved around third, and Edmonds came up throwing.

It wasn't even close. Edmonds' throw to catcher Greg Myers was perfect, and Myers stood waiting with the ball and tagged Tinsley out at the plate.

The Angels, making sure Grahe's job would be easier, picked up another run in the eighth off reliever Steve Farr. Rex Hudler led off with a walk, was sacrificed to second by Myers, and scored on J.T. Snow's single to right.

Grahe pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 13th save.

Chili Davis, who has struck out more times against Clemens than anyone in baseball, was the first to make his teammates believers that Clemens is a mere mortal.

He took a 3-and-1 fastball and sent it over the center field fence for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, giving the Angels a 2-1 lead.

"Putting us ahead was the key," Davis said.

Curtis, who came into the game with a career .192 batting average against Clemens, took notice and followed suit, hitting a two-run homer in the fifth.

Just like that, the Angels had scored more runs off Clemens in five innings than they had in any game in five years.

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