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BASEBALL EXTRA

All Is Not Lost for A's but May Be for Angels

Baseball: Oakland salvages one of 12 games in series and pushes Anaheim closer to elimination.

September 19, 1997|JOHN WEYLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

For those who think anything the Angels do now is too little, too late--and that apparently includes most of Southern California if Thursday's "crowd" at Anaheim Stadium is any indication--there was at least one person who considered the game special.

"Man, you hate to lose a four-game series," Oakland's rookie center fielder, Jason McDonald, said before the game, "yet alone all 12 games in a year. This is the first must-win situation we've faced since I've been here."

Oh, sure, never mind that extra-inning affair up in San Francisco, the real drama in Southland-Bay Area baseball relations was down in Anaheim.

The Angels, whose division-title hopes are disappearing like a marine layer in the afternoon heat, have been shouldering the burden of must-win scenarios on a daily basis. Apparently, the weight again was too much as the A's beat the Angels, 7-3, in front of an announced crowd of 26,689, which included about 14,000 freebies given to Disney employees, many of whom apparently chose not to show.

So the Angels, who won the first 11 games this season against Oakland, still have never swept an opponent in a season series and the A's record of never having been swept in a season series remains intact.

McDonald may be breathing easier, but the Angels are down to their last precious gasps. Seattle's 6-3 victory over Texas left the Angels six games behind the Mariners with nine remaining.

"Time is definitely running out for us," said right-hander Jason Dickson, who had a perfect game for 3 2/3 innings and then gave up five runs in the fifth and lost his third consecutive decision. "We don't have many games left and we've got a lot to make up."

Dickson (13-8) retired the first 11 batters he faced before Ben Grieve bounced a single up the middle with two out in the fourth. He got the first out of the fifth and suddenly turned into a batting-practice pitcher.

Scott Spiezio and Brent Mayne lined successive singles to left and Scott Brosius followed with a drive into the gap in left-center. Spiezio scored and Mayne beat Gary DiSarcina's relay to Chris Turner, slamming into the Angel catcher as he scored. Turner received four stitches on the inside of his mouth and had X-rays of his cheekbone taken at an area hospital.

After Miguel Tejada lined out, McDonald beat out a high bouncer to third with Brosius scoring. Dave Magadan singled and Grieve sent a two-run double into the gap in right-center field that sent Dickson to the clubhouse.

"I just can't get a break right now, and all the bad breaks today came in one inning," Dickson said. "I've made some quality starts, but I haven't been able to get a win this month. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't frustrating and really disappointing."

Dickson also was disappointed in the size and volume of the crowd.

"What happened to all those Disney employees?" he asked. "The crowd seemed awfully sparse."

Those who did show discovered a few of the reasons why Oakland is 29 games under .500.

The A's gave the Angels their first run in the third when DiSarcina doubled and took third on a wild pitch. For some reason, Mayne decided to make an off- balance flip toward third with DiSarcina already sliding into the bag. The throw bounded into left and DiSarcina jogged home.

The gifts continued in the seventh. Tim Salmon doubled and, one out later, Dave Hollins hit a grounder to short with Salmon breaking for third. Tejada tried to get Salmon at third--instead of taking the sure out in a 5-2 game--threw the ball away and Salmon scored to make the score 5-3.

But Angel relief pitchers Greg Cadaret and Pep Harris combined to walk three and yield two hits as the A's scored twice in the ninth, dimming the prospects of a ninth-inning Angel rally.

"You score and then go back out and give it right back, that's deflating," Manager Terry Collins said. "It takes a lot out of you."

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