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Angels Handle Business as Usual : Baseball: They get six strong innings from Langston and beat the Rangers and Darwin, 5-3.


ANAHEIM — There wasn't much need to compare and contrast Saturday night, with the Angels beating the Texas Rangers, 5-3, at Anaheim Stadium.

The gap between pitchers Mark Langston and Danny Darwin was just too wide.

For Langston, it was business as usual. He went six innings, giving up only one run, before an announced crowd of 42,296.

For Darwin, it was part of an attempt to salvage a long career that is in decline. He lasted longer than expected, but was gone after 5 1/3 innings, having given up five runs and 10 hits, including two home runs.

By the time Manager Johnny Oates came for Darwin, the Angels were well on their way to their 18th victory in 23 games since the All-Star break. The Angels and Rangers were tied for first place then. A Saturday victory would boost the Angel lead back to 11 games, the first good news for them in days.

The Angels saw the Anaheim Stadium return of Jim Abbott spoiled Thursday in a 10-7 loss to Seattle. They received more bad news Friday, learning that shortstop Gary DiSarcina would be lost for the season because of a torn thumb ligament.

So restoring their 11-game lead was a nice step.

"It's time to grind it out," said third baseman Tony Phillips, who had two hits and scored two runs. "Everything we get now is going to help us in September. It's time to rack up some wins."

Two ingredients seemed right for that on Saturday: Langston and Darwin.

Langston entered with a seven-game winning streak, matching his career best. He had been pushed back in the rotation three days because of a tender elbow, and he left after six innings for the same reason Saturday.

But before leaving, Langston was impressive. He gave up three hits and struck out five and his only mistake was giving up a home run to Jeff Frye in the fifth inning.

Darwin, on the other hand, didn't even have a job a week ago. He had been released by Toronto on July 18 after losing eight consecutive games.

Darwin hadn't pitched in the major leagues since July 4, when he was roughed up by the Angels for five runs in 1 2/3 innings.

His major league career pretty much picked up where it left off. Phillips hit a 2-and-1 pitch 391 feet over the center-field fence in the first inning for his 17th home run. It was the fifth time this season that Phillips had led off a game with a home run and the 20th time in his career.

Other teams were wheeling and dealing the past two weeks, positioning themselves for the stretch drive by acquiring pitching help. The Angels picked up Abbott, the Cleveland Indians got Ken Hill and the New York Yankees got David Cone. The Seattle Mariners, hoping to make a run at a wild card spot, traded for Andy Benes.

The Rangers went after all them, but had little to offer in return from their minor league system.

The best they could do was the 39-year-old Darwin, an 18-year veteran who was 1-8 with before Toronto cut him loose. They signed him to a minor league contract on July 31, then trotted him out against the Angels, who lead the American League in runs scored.

The Angels chipped away.

Tim Salmon had a run-scoring single in the third. It was his 12th RBI in eight games against the Rangers.

Garret Anderson hit his 11th home run in the sixth inning, giving the Angels a 4-1 lead.

And Spike Owen, who for the moment has replaced DiSarcina, had an RBI single in the sixth.

The Rangers scored in the ninth inning when a sacrifice fly by Rusty Green drove in Mark McLemore and when Spike Owen bobbled and then threw away Otis Nixon's grounder, Jeff Frye scoring.

* QUICK LEARNER: Despite late start, Garret Anderson rates as a rookie-of-the-year candidate. C3

* TEMPORARY SHORTSTOP: Spike Owen understands he's not a permanent replacement for injured Gary DiSarcina. C7

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