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Langston Stymies Royals, 6-1 : Baseball: His four-hit complete game, Salmon's three-run homer give Angels the victory.


You can believe all of the gloom and doom you want, Kansas City Manager Hal McRae was saying Monday, but he's telling you right now:

"There will be no strike. It's just common sense. How can there be a work stoppage with everyone making so much money? They know the skinny. They're just profiling, seeing who's going to blink first. We're going to be playing Friday, you just watch."

It is this philosophy that has helped the Royals creep back into the American League Central race, and if the Angels listen . . . well, crazier things have happened.

The Angels, proving to the crowd of 18,315 at Anaheim Stadium that they really do have a pitching staff, stopped the Royals, 6-1, Monday night behind starter Mark Langston's four-hit complete game.

"It's been an up-and-down year," said Langston (7-8), "not just for me, but the whole team. Hopefully, we can play well for the next few days, and then, who knows what after that.

"It would be nice to worry about getting guys out again instead of worrying about getting guys back on the field."

While Langston was stopping the Royals for his first complete-game victory at Anaheim Stadium since April 28, 1993, right fielder Tim Salmon provided the offense. He hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning, his fourth in the last three games, to break the game open.

"This one felt the best," Salmon said, "because we finally won one. When you lose the way we've been losing, it doesn't mean anything."

The Angels (46-67) might have the worst record in the American League, and have lost 13 of their last 17 games, but no matter how hard they try, they proved it's impossible to fall out of the American League West race.

Just how pathetic is this division?

The Angels are 21-31 since June 10, but have not lost any ground to the Texas Rangers, remaining 6 1/2 games out of first place. Yet, instead of easing the Angels' pain, it has merely intensified their frustration.

"I'm really serious when I say it's been miserable around here," said Angel third baseman Spike Owen, who had two hits and raised his batting average to .313. "We've been scuffling, struggling. Believe me, it's been ugly."

Perhaps nothing can boost the Angels' spirits more, however, than a look at the Royals (63-50), who believed 2 1/2 weeks ago that they were out of their division's race, then reeled off a 14-game winning streak.

"Barring a miracle," Royal closer Jeff Montgomery said, "we were done. We were 9 1/2 games out, and strike or no strike, it looked like we had no chance.

"What's happened since is truly amazing."

The secret?

"While everyone was talking about the season ending (on Friday)," pitcher David Cone said, "we treated it like we still have two months left.

"If you ask me, there's been way too much emphasis on the strike date. I mean, if the rest of the season is wiped out, we're all (finished) anyway."

McRae believes it's absurd for all of these teams to actually be gearing their championship hopes toward a Friday strike date.

"How can you prepare for uncertainty?" he asked. "You're not going to be rewarded if there is no more baseball. If there is no more baseball, nobody wins. You just don't go into postseason play."

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