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BASEBALL EXTRA

Angels Anything but On the Double

Baseball: Watson has solid outing to lead Anaheim to victory in first game, but team has little left and drops nightcap against White Sox.

May 04, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CHICAGO — Before Saturday you could set your alarm clock to Angel pitcher Allen Watson's earned-run average (7.50) and still be late for work in the morning. That's how disappointing April was for the left-hander who was acquired from San Francisco for J.T. Snow last winter.

But the calendar turned and so did Watson, who threw seven shutout innings Saturday to lead the Angels to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox in the first game of a doubleheader.

The White Sox, on the strength of Doug Drabek's seven-inning two-hitter and Ray Durham's three runs batted in, came back to win the nightcap, 4-2, before an announced crowd of 24,004 in Comiskey Park.

"Doubleheaders are hard to play and hard to win--it's rare to see a team sweep a doubleheader," Angel Manager Terry Collins said. "That's why we don't like to play them."

The Angels had only 11 hits on the day, three in the second game. Drabek, the 34-year-old right-hander, pitched well, but there seemed to be little life in Angel bats.

"After we won the first game I felt good about the second game, real relaxed," Angel right fielder Tim Salmon said. "But maybe that can work against you. In past doubleheaders, when we've won the first game, we've always played well in the second, but this time we had nothing."

The Angels could have been swept had Watson (1-2) not had something in the first game, but he came through with his best start of the season, scattering eight hits, walking one, striking out three and locating his fastball on the inside and outside corners.

Watson gave up at least one hit in every inning but pitched his way out of two jams, getting Frank Thomas to pop up and striking out Albert Belle with two on in the third, and retiring Tony Phillips on an infield popup and Durham on a fly ball with runners on second and third in the seventh.

"I've pitched well enough to win my last three games, but they weren't the kinds of games you'd want to take home with you," said Watson, who lowered his ERA to 5.81.

The Angels nearly blew the first game when Mike James, starting the ninth inning with a 3-0 lead, walked two, gave up two hits and hit a batter, allowing the White Sox to pull to within 3-2 on Durham's two-run single.

But Rich DeLucia replaced James and needed only one pitch to retire Belle on a game-ending groundout with runners on first and second for his first save, the second of his career and the Angels' third of the season.

"It's a funny thing, that fine line between overuse and underuse, and I don't think he's thrown the ball enough to be sharp," Collins said of James, who hadn't pitched since last Tuesday. "He wasn't locating the ball or making any pitches. There was no zip or life to his fastball."

The Angels caught a huge break in the ninth inning when, with runners on first and second, Ozzie Guillen grounded sharply up the middle. The ball caromed off shortstop Gary DiSarcina's glove but right to second baseman Luis Alicea, who scooped it up, stepped on the bag and completed the double play.

They caught another break in the third when White Sox catcher Ron Karkovice appeared to have Eddie Murray picked off second--replays showed Guillen tagged the diving Murray before he got to the bag.

But umpire Larry Barnett was screened by Guillen and not in position to see the tag, and he ruled Murray safe. Murray took third on a passed ball and scored on Darin Erstad's sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead.

The Angels made it 2-0 in the eighth when Alicea tripled to right-center and pinch-hitter Jack Howell doubled off the right-field wall, and 3-0 in the ninth when Jim Leyritz singled, stole second and scored on Garret Anderson's double to left-center, Anderson's third extra-base hit of the season.

Dennis Springer started the second game for the Angels but had trouble controlling his knuckleball. The right-hander gave up four runs on eight hits, including Durham's third-inning homer and fourth-inning, two-run double, in 3 2/3 innings.

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