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BASEBALL EXTRA

Relievers Lack Finishing Touch After Hasegawa Does His Part

Angels: McElroy gives up game-tying single, Harris has costly walks in 4-2 loss to White Sox.

May 05, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CHICAGO — The masterpiece Angel pitcher Shigetoshi Hasegawa worked so hard to paint against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday was hacked up by a couple of Angel relievers whose work this season had been suitable for framing.

The normally reliable Chuck McElroy gave up a game-tying single in the sixth inning, and Pep Harris, who had given up one run in six previous outings, walked two who eventually scored in the seventh as the White Sox rallied for a 4-2 victory before 22,181 in Comiskey Park.

The Angels threatened in the eighth, loading the bases with none out. But pinch-hitter Eddie Murray's vicious liner was snagged--in self defense--by Chicago third baseman Chris Snopek, Luis Alicea struck out and Gary DiSarcina grounded out against reliever Tony Castillo.

"He couldn't have hit that ball any harder," Angel Manager Terry Collins said of Murray's missile. "It was going right at [Snopek's] head. . . . That's what you want: to hit the ball hard and take your chances. But we still didn't drive in any runs when we needed to."

Hasegawa, starting for the injured Mark Langston, pitched his best game of the season, giving up two runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings and breaking enough Chicago bats (three) to start a campfire. But all he had to show for it was a no-decision.

"It's more frustrating because Shige pitched so well. He threw an outstanding game," McElroy said. "It does bother you as a reliever because that's our job, to protect the lead."

Collins pulled the tiring Hasegawa with two outs and a runner on second in the sixth and the Angels holding a 2-1 lead. McElroy came on to face left-handed-batting Harold Baines, who had homered off Hasegawa in the second. McElroy jumped ahead on the count, 0-and-2.

McElroy tried to nip the outside corner with two pitches he believed were strikes, and Baines eventually poked a full-count pitch up the middle for an RBI single and a 2-2 score. Lyle Mouton then singled, and Collins pulled McElroy for Harris.

"I made two good pitches in a row and didn't get the call," McElroy said. "In some ways, it does unnerve you. You try not to get rattled, but one thing like that can be the turning point in the game, and it was."

Harris, who walked one in seven previous games, looked as lost as a sailor without a compass, walking No. 9 batter Ozzie Guillen and leadoff hitter Ray Durham to open the seventh inning.

Collins summoned Rich DeLucia to face Dave Martinez, whose bunt hugged the third-base line and rolled to the bag for a single. Frank Thomas' sacrifice fly scored the winning run, and Albert Belle's RBI single provided insurance, as the White Sox won their first series of the year.

"Shige did absolutely everything he could to keep us in the game," Collins said. "It was an outstanding effort. All I know is every time Jimmy [Leyritz, Angel catcher] set up, the ball was there, so obviously his location was very good."

White Sox starter Jaime Navarro, who gave up two runs--one earned--on eight hits in seven innings, threw plenty of strikes, but Thomas, Chicago's first baseman, did not.

Navarro picked off Jim Edmonds at first in the first inning, but Thomas' wild throw toward second base went into left field, and the ball then rolled under Belle's glove, allowing Edmonds to score.

Thomas' toss to first base on Garret Anderson's eighth-inning bunt pulled Durham off the bag and allowed the Angels to load the bases.

"We don't pay Frank to play defense, we pay him to hit," White Sox shortstop Ozzie Guillen joked. "They pay me to play defense."

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