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For Angels, It's Only Big Inning

Baseball: They score seven in third, then hang on for 8-7 victory over White Sox. Langston pitches well.

May 14, 1997|JOHN WEYLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Angels, who struggled through a 3-8 trip with barely a clutch hit, resorted to their new get-'em-all-in-one-inning approach Tuesday night and won their second consecutive game.

A club record-tying 13-run inning carried them to victory Monday, and Tuesday they scored seven in the third inning of an 8-7 victory that lifted them to a two-game series sweep of Chicago in front of 14,806 at Anaheim Stadium.

Runs in bunches are nice; a couple of victories in a row is a pleasant turn of events, but the return to the mound--and return to form--of veteran left-hander Mark Langston was the really good news on this evening.

Langston, who had not pitched since April 29 because of an inflamed left elbow, apparently has made another remarkably quick return from an injury. He struggled in the early going, giving up a two-run homer to Frank Thomas in the first and a run-scoring single to Albert Belle in the third. But he settled in to retire nine of the next 10 batters before leaving after six with a pitching line the Angels will take any day: six innings, six hits, three runs (two earned), five strikeouts and one walk.

"You don't know what to expect when you go out there in a situation like this," Langston said. "I was just excited to be there. But to go from where I was five or six days ago to an outing like this, it's pretty amazing.

"I felt really strong, my breaking ball was as sharp as it's been all year. Then the boys picked me up with all those runs and that allowed me to be more aggressive."

Manager Terry Collins said Langston, who came back one month after elbow surgery in 1994 and sooner than expected after knee surgery last season, told him last week he was going to try some long toss to determine the extent of the injury. When that caused no discomfort, he pitched a simulated game, throwing 127 pitches and "really airing it out." Again, he experienced no pain.

So there he was Tuesday night, putting in the kind of quality start the Angels believe will bring them a victory on most nights--nights when their sometimes-slumbering offense awakens.

They dozed for only a couple of innings before Jim Edmonds led off the third with a single, Dave Hollins walked and Jim Leyritz, who suffered a cramp in his right groin and left after the inning, drove in the Angels' first run with a single to left.

Tim Salmon's tailor-made double-play ball went right through the legs of Chicago shortstop Ozzie Guillen, Hollins scored and the floodgates were opening. Garret Anderson's single to right loaded the bases for Eddie Murray, who Tuesday became the sixth player in major league history to play in 3,000 games.

A grand slam would have been a nice way to celebrate, but Murray had to settle for a run-scoring flare that plopped into right field. Luis Alicea followed with a two-run double to right-center that would have scored three if Murray had decided to slide or home-plate umpire Drew Coble had the benefit of instant replay. Television replays clearly showed Chad Kreuter tagged Murray on the top of his foot, which was firmly planted on the plate. Alicea scored on Gary DiSarcina's second of three doubles and DiSarcina came home on Edmonds' sacrifice fly to center.

DiSarcina drove in what turned out to be the winning run with another double to left in the seventh.

"We played so many tight games on the road, it seemed like we were always one run away," said DiSarcina. "That wears on you. I think we got home and just relaxed."

Collins said the Angels had no specific pitch count for Langston, but any chance he would pitch into the late innings pretty much evaporated in the first. Langston threw 24 pitches in the inning, one of which was a 2-2 delivery that Thomas drilled for a two-run homer to left after third baseman Hollins had booted Ray Durham's grounder.

Chicago, which had won six of eight games in May before arriving in Anaheim, came to life shortly after Langston left.

Reliever Mike Holtz didn't give up a hit during his one-inning stint and Pep Harris struck out Thomas and Belle before falling apart in the eighth. He gave up a walk, an infield single, a bloop RBI single to Martin and a run-scoring single to center by Kreuter. Guillen greeted left-hander Darrell May with another run-scoring single to center and Collins summoned closer Mike James, who got Tony Phillips to fly to left to end the inning.

The White Sox scored again in the ninth and had the tying run on third when the game ended.

So Chicago, averaging six runs a game this month, surpassed that Tuesday night.

But it wasn't enough to beat those big-inning Angels.

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