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Old Scourge Is No Match for Angels' New Surge

July 13, 2003|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

The Angels have fared pretty well in recent seasons against top American League pitchers, beating Barry Zito, Mike Mussina, David Wells and Mark Mulder, among others.

But Minnesota's Brad Radke always has been a different story.

A pitcher with a 107-108 career record, Radke has been nearly seamless against the Angels, going 11-4 overall and 6-1 at Edison Field.

Saturday, he was merely a pitcher who tired in the seventh inning of the Angels' 6-1 victory over the Twins in front of 43,174 that marked a club-record 15th sellout at Edison Field this season.

Darin Erstad cracked open the game with a two-run triple in a four-run seventh inning, Jarrod Washburn gave the Angels another reason to believe their starting pitchers have righted themselves, and the Angels won for the 11th time in 15 games.

It was a profitable day off the field as well for Manager Mike Scioscia, who signed a two-year contract extension that will take him through the 2007 season, and perhaps 2008 if the club picks up his option year. If Scioscia manages through 2008, he will become the manager with the longest tenure -- nine years -- in team history.

The Angels halted the success Radke had strung together again them, for whatever reason.

"It was great to get a win off him and get a win for this team because we're playing a lot better," first baseman Scott Spiezio said. "Hopefully, we can keep this momentum going through the [All-Star] break."

Washburn (8-9) provided the latest evidence that the Angel starters had straightened out after a rocky start, mixing his speeds, getting ahead in the count and giving up one earned run and five hits in seven innings. He struck out five and walked one.

"The key is our starting pitching," Scioscia said. "These guys have been terrific for the last three weeks. That has to continue and will continue."

Francisco Rodriguez pitched scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth and the Angel bullpen, a source of strength throughout the season, continued its torrid pace. Angel relievers have given up two earned runs in 33 1/3 innings this month, a 0.54 ERA.

Twin Manager Ron Gardenhire, serving a one-game suspension because of Kenny Rogers' retaliatory inside pitch July 3 against Cleveland after both teams had been warned, missed a solid pitchers' duel through six innings that dissolved into an Angel blowout in the seventh.

With the score tied, 1-1, Jeff DaVanon and Adam Kennedy singled to open the seventh inning.

With one out, Erstad drilled a two-run triple off the right-field wall.

Radke (5-9) was replaced by J.C. Romero, but the Angels scored two runs on singles by Spiezio and Garret Anderson. By the end of the inning, the Twins were on their way to a seventh consecutive loss.

By the time Spiezio's sacrifice fly scored DaVanon in the eighth inning, the Angels were well on their way to pinning a loss on Radke, who had baffled them in previous outings with his changeup and location.

"It's tough to get anything off of him," Erstad said. "You're never going to solve him. You just try to string some hits together and have a good inning."

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