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Easley Is the Picture of Power as Angels Win, 5-3


Predictability took a beating at Anaheim Stadium Friday night.

The new, $3.6-million video board went on the fritz for five innings in its debut, but all things considered that hardly ranked as the most shocking event of the evening.

There were so many more unexpected events in the Angels' 5-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox before 30,274.

Angel second baseman Damion Easley, batting .211 when the night began, hit two home runs in a three-hit night.

Chicago first baseman Frank Thomas went hitless in four plate appearances. He did walk once.

Angel reliever Russ Springer kept the White Sox hitless in 1 1/3 innings to earn his second career save.

And the Angels ended a nine-game home losing streak, winning for only the third time in 14 games overall.

"Oh, baby," Manager Marcel Lachemann said. "A win anywhere is nice, but a win here is especially nice."

Until Easley stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning Friday, the Angels appeared to find their usual rut, playing their distinctive brand of listless baseball to the hilt.

Chicago took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on solo home runs by Robin Ventura, in the second, and Julio Franco, in the fourth, against starter Chuck Finley (9-10).

The Angels mounted little in the way of offense against starter Wilson Alvarez until Easley's two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth made the score 2-2. It was Easley's fifth homer this season, but his first since May 10 against Texas.

By his next at-bat, with the bases empty in the seventh, Chicago had regained the lead, 3-2. But Easley hit a 3-and-2 pitch from Alvarez over the left field wall, completing the first two-home run game of his career. His three runs batted in equaled his personal best.

Jim Edmonds' one-out, run-scoring double gave the Angels a 4-3 lead. It held up, preserved by Springer, who extended his streak of scoreless innings to 12 2/3. That might not sound like much, but it's the longest streak by an Angel reliever this season.

Easley has suffered perhaps the most dismal slide of any of the Angels, enduring an eight for 49 skid (.163) in the 15 games he had played before Friday.

Moreover, in 36 games since returning from the disabled list after having an inflamed right shoulder on June 17, he had batted a punchless .177 (22 for 124).

Easley had been slotted to be the every day second baseman when the Angels overhauled their infield in early June. But he has shared the position with Harold Reynolds and Rex Hudler.

"He's a gifted young athlete," Lachemann said of Easley, a .313 hitter before shin surgery ended his 1993 season in August. "I honestly believe he will come around."

Without Easley's contributions, the Angels' frustration seemed as if it would continue unabated Friday. When the subject came up again before the game, Lachemann said:

"It gets to the point where it looks like you get something rolling, like when we swept Boston (July 18-20), but . . . to play at the level we're playing and still be in the race is probably the most frustrating part of this thing."

With a week left before the expected players' strike, set to begin next Friday, and the last-place Angels 7 1/2 games out of first and 20 games below .500, it seemed like a moot point.

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