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Angels Can't Get Out of This Spot

Baseball: A night after rallying to beat Texas, they fall behind, 7-0, and come up just short in 9-8 loss.

June 07, 2002|BILL SHAIKIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Angels spotted the Texas Rangers seven runs Thursday, almost for the fun of it. The Angels, after all, spooked the Rangers Wednesday by scoring twice in the ninth inning to tie and three times in the 10th to win.

So, when Texas scored seven runs in the top of the third inning Thursday and the Angels answered with four in the bottom of the inning, another night o' thrills was on tap at Edison Field.

The Angels didn't win this time, but they sure made the Rangers sweat. The Angels scored twice in the eighth inning and twice more in the ninth, when they got the tying run to third base, but a 9-8 loss ended the Angels' latest winning streak at four games.

The Angels wasted a chance to close within one game of the Seattle Mariners in the American League West for the first time since the first week of the season. Kevin Appier lost his third consecutive start, though he said afterward arm fatigue might have been partially responsible and a solution might have been found.

Losses happen. But the Angels' hearts beat a bit faster in the ninth inning, when slugger Troy Glaus--moved from third base to shortstop for the final inning after the Angels used two pinch-hitters--was upended by Calvin Murray as he turned a double-play pivot.

Fortunately for the Angels, Glaus was fine. Manager Mike Scioscia insisted he was not worried about the possibility of losing his All-Star third baseman to injury while playing him out of position.

"No more so than when he dives headfirst stealing a base or dives for a ball," said Scioscia, noting that Glaus played shortstop at UCLA. "That's a play he's made 1,000 times in his life."

Garret Anderson homered twice and drove in four runs for the Angels. Juan Gonzalez homered and drove in four runs for Texas, which avoided a four-game sweep. The Angels are 6-2 against Texas, 3-11 against the rest of the AL West.

The Angels will play their next 15 games against National League opponents, starting tonight against the first-place Cincinnati Reds, but the schedule provides five more games against the Rangers at the end of the month.

If Appier's losing streak is still intact then, the Angels will be worried. But they're not concerned about him right now, and Appier is a little less concerned himself. After the game, he said that he has been feeling a little fatigue in his pitching arm.

After the Rangers knocked him out in the third inning Thursday, Appier said, he mentioned the fatigue to Angel athletic trainer Ned Bergert and medical director Lewis Yocum. Rather than order any tests, the two men suggested a modification to Appier's delivery that he believes can eliminate the fatigue and enhance his performance, particularly his breaking ball.

The Angels lost Appier's previous starts by scores of 4-2 and 5-2. Hard to blame those on the starting pitcher.

This one? Not hard at all.

Appier did not survive a third inning that resembled batting practice--seven runs, seven hits.

With one out, Jason Romano doubled. Mike Lamb singled. Alex Rodriguez singled--1-0, Texas. Gonzalez homered--4-0, Texas.

Rafael Palmeiro walked. Herbert Perry flied out, and Appier was close to escaping. But Ryan Ludwick doubled. Bill Haselman grounded to third baseman Glaus, who bobbled it for an error as Palmeiro scored--5-0, Texas. Michael Young singled--6-0, Texas.

Appier left, but Romano greeted Lou Pote with another single for a 7-0 Texas lead.

Texas starter Kenny Rogers got the victory because the rules say a starter must if he pitches five innings and leaves with a lead that his team never loses. But he needed an astounding 102 pitches to endure five innings, giving up four runs and very nearly giving up the lead.

In the fifth, pitching with an 8-4 cushion, Rogers was so shaky he walked Jose Nieves--the first walk for Nieves this season, in 74 plate appearances. With two out, following a single by Darin Erstad and a walk to Anderson, the Angels had the bases loaded and the tying run at the plate.

Tim Salmon worked the count full, then flied out to center field. The inning was done, as was Rogers. Over the final five innings, the Angels left seven men in scoring position.

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