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BASEBALL EXTRA

Angels Are Still Trying to Find Their Zone

Baseball: DeLucia walks in winning run in 10th inning and Anaheim wastes several chances in 4-3 loss to Brewers.

May 11, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MILWAUKEE — The way things are going for the Angels, they'd be at a loss to find another way to lose.

They actually caught a few breaks Saturday, scoring two runs on bloop hits and escaping a bases-loaded jam because of a Brewer baserunning blunder. But they couldn't catch the ball--or the strike zone--in the 10th inning and lost to Milwaukee, 4-3, before 15,240 in County Stadium.

Shortstop Gary DiSarcina, who had gone 25 consecutive games without an error, misplayed John Jaha's grounder to open the 10th, and reliever Rich DeLucia, who had an 0.79 earned-run average, walked the next three batters to force in the winning run.

It was the Angels' fourth consecutive loss, their sixth in the last seven games and their second one-run loss in a row. The Angels blew a 3-0 lead, had a runner thrown out at third in the eighth inning and lost despite amassing 13 hits, a numbing set of circumstances that left some at a loss for words.

"I don't know what to say," right fielder Tim Salmon said. "It's a struggle any time you're losing, but there are no words for this. A few things did go right for us, but we just didn't get it done. . . . what can you do?"

Angel starter Jason Dickson didn't have his best stuff but still pitched well enough to win. Dickson gave up one run and seven hits through six innings before being replaced by Mike James after giving up singles to Mark Loretta and Jesse Levis with one out in the seventh and the Angels leading, 3-1.

James retired Gerald Williams on a grounder to first, both runners advancing, and Jeff Cirillo followed with a sharp single to right. Loretta scored and third base coach Chris Bando waved the lead-footed Levis home with almost no reverence for Salmon's strong arm.

Though Salmon's throw arrived well ahead of the Brewer catcher, it was a few feet up the first base line, and catcher Jim Leyritz's diving attempt to tag Levis was a split-second late as the Brewers pulled even, 3-3.

Eddie Murray walked to open the top of the eighth and Jim Edmonds singled to left, but pinch-runner Orlando Palmeiro was thrown out trying to go from first to third on a well-executed throw-and-tag by left fielder Jeromy Burnitz and third baseman Cirillo.

"If my throw is on line, we get that guy at the plate," Salmon said. "Then they make a throw that's right on the bag and get our guy. That's the difference between winning and losing."

So is good relief pitching. The Brewers got it again Saturday--from Jose Mercedes, Ron Villone, Mike Fetters and Doug Jones, who held the Angels scoreless for the last four innings--and the Angels didn't.

After DiSarcina's 10th-inning error, pinch-runner Chuckie Carr took second on Leyritz's passed ball. Burnitz and Matt Mieske then walked to load the bases, and DeLucia, most of his pitches barely missing the outside corner, fell behind Jose Valentin, 3 and 0.

DeLucia, with the infield in, threw one strike, but his next pitch sailed outside again, and Carr trotted home for the winning run.

"He wasn't calling that pitch," DeLucia said of home-plate umpire Ken Kaiser, "but I should have made a bigger adjustment. The last three pitches I tried to throw right down the middle of the plate and they kept tailing outside. My pitches usually don't do that."

Most grounders don't do to DiSarcina what Jaha's did in the 10th. DiSarcina appeared to get an in-between hop, and the ball caromed away for his second error this season.

"He doesn't miss many," Manager Terry Collins said. "If there's one guy you want the ball hit to in the ninth inning, it's Gary DiSarcina."

The Angels scored in the second on singles by Garret Anderson and Murray and Craig Grebeck's RBI double. Darin Erstad's double, Dave Hollins' single and Salmon's bloop single made the score 2-0 in the third, and Hollins' double, Salmon's single and Leyritz's bloop single made the score 3-0 in the fifth.

The Brewers scored in the fifth when Mieske doubled, Loretta walked and Levis singled Mieske home. But after loading the bases with one out, Loretta didn't even attempt to tag up and score from third on Cirillo's deep drive to the right-center-field gap.

"You create your own good breaks, and bad breaks sometimes," Collins said. "We got two bloop singles to drive in runs but it wasn't good enough. You look up in the fifth inning and it's 3-0, but we had a chance to make it 5-0 or 6-0."

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