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BASEBALL EXTRA

Much Huffing and Puffing, but Angels Still Swept Away

Baseball: Collins and Fabregas are ejected in 5-2 loss, the team's third in a row at Milwaukee.

May 12, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MILWAUKEE — There were 26-mph winds gusting off Lake Michigan on Sunday, and the Angels--particularly Manager Terry Collins, catcher Jorge Fabregas and pitcher Chuck Finley--were simply swept away by them and the Milwaukee Brewers.

Fabregas and Collins were ejected in the second inning for arguing with home-plate umpire Joe Brinkman, and the Angels were dejected following a 5-2 loss to the Brewers before 17,419 in County Stadium.

It was the Angels' fifth consecutive loss, their seventh in eight games, and it gave them a 3-8 record at the end of their longest trip of the season. Six of the eight losses, including all three games at Milwaukee, were by three runs or fewer.

"We had a terrible road trip, and we were in every game," Collins said. "The frustrating thing is we haven't been able to win any [close games]. Guys just need to keep their composure, maintain an even keel."

Easier said than done Sunday. Fabregas, fed up with what he thought were bad calls by Brinkman, turned around while Marc Newfield was at the plate in the top of the second and began jawing with the umpire.

As Collins made his way to the plate, Brinkman tossed Fabregas, and one short argument later, Collins joined Fabregas in the clubhouse after the manager's first ejection of the season. The Angels trailed, 5-0, at the time.

"I was just sticking up for Chuck and my teammates," Fabregas said after his first career ejection. "I can't sit back there and let that happen. That's a better pitcher out there, and there were balls over the plate [that weren't called strikes].

"Turning around and showing him up is obviously not appropriate behavior on my part, but I was so mad I let my emotions go too far."

Frustrations went pretty far for the Angels on Sunday as well. They scored off Brewer starter Ben McDonald in the fifth inning and had the bases loaded with two outs, but Dave Hollins' liner to the second-base hole was snagged by Eddy Diaz just before it went into right field.

Jack Howell opened the sixth with a drive to the left-center field wall, but Chuck Carr robbed Howell of extra bases with a spectacular leaping catch about a foot below the top of the fence. The Angels then strung three singles together for a run before the rally ended.

"That's pretty much the way things are right now--those balls aren't going to go one foot the other way, they're going to go right at them," Collins said. "The only way we're going to get out of this is to continue to battle, to not make excuses. We just have to get that one big hit to break loose."

The Brewers, who lead the American League's Central Division by two games, had no such problems against Finley (0-3), who gave up 10 hits in five innings.

Gerald Williams led off the first with a homer, and Jeff Cirillo walked. Matt Mieske's one-out single moved Cirillo to second, and Mark Loretta's single to left-center scored Cirillo for a 2-0 lead.

Carr, an .083 hitter entering the game, singled to open the second--it was only his fourth hit of the season--and Williams singled. Cirillo and David Nilsson each hit run-scoring singles, and Mieske added a sacrifice fly.

"To put your team in a hole like that is not something you want to do at all," Finley said. "You need to show the offense that two or three runs will win a game for you."

McDonald (4-2) wasn't extremely sharp, giving up eight hits in 5 2/3 innings, but he still improved his career record to 12-4 against the Angels. Three Milwaukee relievers--Ron Villone, Bob Wickman and Doug Jones--combined to retire the last 10 Angels.

The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Angels, who open a two-game series tonight against the Chicago White Sox.

"When you've been gone for this long and gone through what we've been through, it weighs on your mind," Collins said. "It will be good to get back in our own beds."

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