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Dickson Stymies Orioles With Help From Friends

Baseball: Rookie and four relievers allow only three hits as Angels win their fourth in a row, 3-2.


Just about the time closer Troy Percival was taking the mound in Lake Elsinore to give his shoulder what could be a final rehabilitation test before returning from the disabled list, the Angels were finding that it takes only, oh, four or so guys to replace him.

Rookie sensation Jason Dickson turned in another solid start and then Chuck McElroy, Rich DeLucia, Mike Holtz and Mike James--none of whom threw more than eight pitches--combined to retire the last six Baltimore batters as the Angels won their fourth game in a row, beating the Orioles, 3-2, Thursday night before 15,966 at Anaheim Stadium.

"Troy is like one of the family and not having a guy with his talent is a big loss," Holtz said, "but we knew if we all did our part, we were capable of picking up the slack until he returned."

McElroy got Brady Anderson and Roberto Alomar, the first two batters in the eighth on a lazy fly ball and a groundout, then gave way to DeLucia, who struck out Eric Davis. Holtz retired Rafael Palmeiro on a grounder to second and James picked up his fifth save of the season after getting Cal Ripken to fly to right and B.J. Surhoff on a strikeout.

"I realize a lot of people don't believe we have much of a chance in this division, but you know something, we don't know that," Manager Terry Collins said. "You look at great teams and they're filled with players who can rise to the occasion. Later this summer, games like this will remind us that we know how to get the job done."

Collins decided to bring in DeLucia because "if Eric Davis was going to beat somebody, it was going to be right-hander." Then he went to Holtz because "if Palmeiro is going to hit a homer, it was going to come against a left-hander."

"I knew the guys were beat, but I figured Holtz had one guy in him and James had a couple guys," he said. "I don't know how they'll be tomorrow, but I can't worry about tomorrow."

Dickson, who had a fever before the game, jumped into the spotlight with two complete games and four victories in his first five starts this season, a feverish pace that figured to cool down--there haven't been many 30-game winners in the big leagues recently.

But his last two outings may have been just as impressive in their own way.

Collins said Dickson "wasn't real sharp" last Saturday in Milwaukee when he left the game in the seventh inning after giving up one run and nine hits, an outing that could be considered a cutting-edge performance for many in this league. Against Baltimore, a team that had not lost a series this year until this one, Dickson started strong, then struggled a bit but once again proved he can compete even when he isn't feeling his best.

He gave up three hits and both runs in seven innings of work. It was the eighth time in nine starts he has allowed three or fewer runs.

The Angels veered away from their formula of falling behind and staging the dramatic rallies that have carried them to 11 come-from-behind victories this year.

Collins decided to give Dave Hollins a day off, inserted Jack Howell at third base and the move paid immediate dividends in the first inning. Jim Edmonds singled and Howell drove him in with a double to the wall in right- center. One out later, Howell scored on Tim Salmon's single to left.

The Angels increased their lead to 3-0 in the second when Luis Alicea led off with a double to left-center, moved to second on Gary DiSarcina's single to right and scored on Darin Erstad's sacrifice fly.

The Orioles had two baserunners but no hits in the first three innings. Dickson hit Davis in the first and walked Brady Anderson in the third. Palmeiro ended the Baltimore drought in the fourth when Dickson challenged him with a 3-2 pitch and he smashed a towering shot into the right-field seats.

Dickson retired five of the next six Orioles before momentarily losing control. He walked Alomar, the first batter of the sixth on four pitches, quickly fell behind Davis before giving up a single to left and then walked Palmeiro to load the bases. Alomar scored on Ripken's sacrifice fly to right, but Dickson got Surhoff to bounce into an inning-ending double play.

The Angels had runners in scoring position with less than two outs in the third, fourth and seventh innings, but couldn't push across another run, forcing the bullpen by committee to bring down the curtain.

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