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Erickson Still Master of Angels

Baseball: Oriole pitcher has six career victories in as many starts at Anaheim Stadium.

September 05, 1996|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — Scott Erickson beat the Angels at Anaheim Stadium Wednesday night.

Of course he did. Happens all the time. You can count on it.

Forget that Erickson was 9-11 with a 5.45 earned-run average going into the game. Erickson owns the Angels at Anaheim Stadium.

Fact is, Erickson owns the Angels just about anywhere he faces them, but he's unbeatable at Anaheim.

Wednesday, he made his sixth start at Anaheim Stadium and emerged with his sixth victory.

And that shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

After all, Erickson has more victories against the Angels than any other club. Wednesday's victory pushed his career mark to 12-2 against them.

Perhaps only Boston's Roger Clemens, who last week won his 25th career game against them, handles the Angels with such ease.

Even when the Angels had a 1-0 lead entering the sixth inning, Erickson seemed to have them bewildered. Take away a one-out double by Jim Edmonds, who later scored on a groundout, in the first inning and Erickson had a no-hitter.

There were no signs of panic on the mound. Erickson worked methodically and efficiently, retiring 14 consecutive Angels after Edmonds' double.

He stuck to his fastball, unable to get his curve over for a strike, and the Angels kept pounding it into the ground for easy outs. Eight of the outs during his streak of 14 in a row came on groundouts.

Soon enough, predictably enough, the Oriole hitters snapped to life, coming to Erickson's rescue with a four-run sixth inning. The bullpen preserved the Orioles' 4-2 victory before 18,204.

"It could have been a loss if we don't score those runs there," said Erickson, who lowered his earned-run average to 2.60 at Anaheim Stadium and 3.56 overall against the Angels.

Erickson breezed through the seventh, then ran into a bit of trouble in the eighth. It was still 4-1 at that point, and Oriole Manager Davey Johnson decided to turn the game over to the bullpen.

It wasn't as if Erickson needed much help. He had only thrown 95 pitches, giving up five hits without walking a batter. He also had one strikeout.

But with the Orioles in the heat of the playoff race, Johnson was taking no chances. There are other games yet to be won this season.

Pressed about his success against the Angels, Erickson merely shrugged. The Angels' 13-0 victory over him Aug. 25 at Camden Yards was fresh in his mind. The Angels hammered him for eight runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings, his shortest start of the season.

He received no offensive support, but blamed himself.

"It's all game-to-game," said Erickson, 18-7 in 31 career starts in September. "Last time I pitched against them, I gave up eight runs. Last time, I gave them some runs. This time, I kept the ball down and let the fielders do their jobs."

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