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Angels Rocked, 2 1/2 Back

September 03, 1997|JOHN WEYLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The entire Angel starting lineup had already taken early batting practice by the time the Colorado Rockies strolled into Anaheim Stadium Tuesday afternoon, but maybe the Angels will want to try that chill-in-the-ho-tel-room-until-three-hours-be-fore-game-time approach on their upcoming road trip to Detroit and Toronto.

It seems to work pretty well for Colorado. The Rockies rapped out a dozen hits, including three home runs, while racking up their eighth win in a row with a 7-2 victory in front of 18,266.

The Angels dropped to 2 1/2 games behind idle Seattle in the AL West, but Manager Terry Collins insists they can't worry about what the Mariners are doing and must focus on their own game.

At the moment, however, they might need a microscope to find it. They aren't hitting, their pitching is shaky and they committed two errors Tuesday night.

The extra batting practice didn't seem to help the Angels in their quest to solve the deliveries of former Dodger Pedro Astacio, who went eight innings. He allowed seven hits and struck out seven without walking a batter.

"When he's got his sinker and changeup working, he can be very tough," Collins said. "And what he did tonight was pitch inside very well. But we're going to Detroit now and they've got a couple of big leaguers waiting for us, so it doesn't get any easier."

Angel pitchers aren't the only ones to feel like members of an Indy 500 pit crew while watching Colorado runners spin around the basepaths. The Rockies have scored 102 more runs than any other team in the National League and had five players hitting .308 or better in their lineup Tuesday night. Clearly, this wasn't the perfect match-up for struggling Angel starter Jason Dickson. The last thing you want to see when trying to rebound from a rocky outing is a bunch of Rockies.

Dickson, who gave up eight runs in 4 1/3 innings against San Diego Thursday night, didn't fare much better this time around. He left with runners on second and third with one out in the fourth after yielding five runs on seven hits. He gave up three homers and two more deep fly balls that sent Angel outfielders up against the wall.

"Was location a problem?" Collins asked. "Isn't location always the problem? Obviously, he was putting the ball where they wanted it or they wouldn't have hit it out of the ballpark."

Astacio gave up a home run to Darin Erstad in the first, then faced four or fewer batters in the next five innings before the Angels scored a gift run in the seventh. Garret Anderson singled and scored on Jack Howell's high fly to left-center that landed in between left-fielder John Vander Wal and center-fielder Ellis Burks, both of whom were looking at the other instead of the ball.

The Angels finally mustered a bit of a threat after Astacio left. Tim Salmon greeted reliever Mike DeJean with a single to center, Anderson followed with a single to left and Dave Hollins walked to load the bases. Colorado Manager Don Baylor summoned reliever Mike Williams, who got pinch-hitter Chris Turner to line out to right and then induced a game-ending double play from Chad Kreuter.

The Rockies manufactured a run in the first. Walt Weiss' looper cleared the glove of a leaping Gary DiSarcina for a single, he stole second and took third when catcher Angelo Encarnacion's throw scooted past DiSarcina into center field. Weiss scored on a wild pitch.

The Angels made it 1-1 in much quicker fashion in the bottom of the inning when Erstad turned on a 2-2 pitch and deposited it 404 feet from home in the right-field seats.

Weiss, who had four hits and a walk and scored twice, put Colorado back in front for good in the third with a leadoff homer to right, his third of the season. One out later, Larry Walker launched a solo shot into the right-field bullpen, his 41st.

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