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Washburn Feeling Complete

Last season's form is starting to return as Angel pitcher goes all nine innings, allowing six hits in 6-1 victory over Cleveland.

May 07, 2003|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

Jarrod Washburn registered the first complete-game victory of his career. Garret Anderson and Bengie Molina hit multi-run homers, touching off firework displays and extended ovations.

Even light-hitting Adam Kennedy got into the act with his first homer of the season.

Unfortunately for the Angels, the party-like atmosphere, complete with the requisite blaring postgame music in the clubhouse, was spoiled to a degree by one sobering realization: It was accomplished against the Cleveland Indians.

The Angels' 6-1 victory over Cleveland on Tuesday at Edison Field gave them a sterling 3-0 record against the Indians -- the only team in the American League they have a winning record against more than a month into the season.

The Angels recognize that going undefeated against one of the worst teams in baseball -- even if they can sustain the feat over the teams' remaining six meetings -- isn't going to provide much help in getting them back into the playoffs.

But considering that they were coming off a three-game sweep by the Toronto Blue Jays, also among the dregs of baseball, the Angels would have taken a victory against the Bad News Bears.

Washburn (3-3) probably came within one batter of being lifted in the ninth after allowing consecutive singles with one out. But the left-hander struck out Jody Gerut on a full-count slider and got Casey Blake to hit a soft liner to Kennedy for the final out.

"It feels awful good to come off that field after we make the last out and I'm on the winning side," said Washburn, who had lost the first two complete games of his career.

Washburn, who allowed six hits and the one run while striking out five and issuing two walks, appears to have regained the form that allowed him to win 12 consecutive games last season while establishing himself as the Angels' ace.

He threw 70 of his 106 pitches for strikes Tuesday and has pitched an average of eight innings over his last three outings, which have included two victories over the Indians.

"You love playing behind Washburn," shortstop David Eckstein said. "He works so quick, throws strikes and keeps everyone in the game. He went out and delivered a fantastic start."

Anderson allowed the Angels to shrug off Ellis Burks' first-inning homer -- the 350th of his career -- when he sent a Ricardo Rodriguez pitch just inside the right-field foul pole in the bottom of the inning for a two-run homer.

Washburn wasn't threatened again until the sixth, when Brandon Phillips hit a leadoff double that center fielder Jeff DaVanon initially broke in on, then had to chase down at the wall. DaVanon redeemed himself when Matt Lawton, the next batter, flied to deep center and DaVanon made a strong throw back into the infield to keep Phillips at second. Washburn escaped the inning with no further damage after intentionally walking Burks.

Molina gave the Angels breathing room in the seventh with his third three-run homer of the season, just short of the World Series flag in left-center, and Kennedy added a solo shot in the eighth.

The Angels, who won Tuesday in 2 hours 1 minute, have outscored the Indians, 22-4, in their three meetings, but after the game the focus was entirely on Washburn.

"I think he's throwing the ball as well as any time last year," Angel Manager Mike Scioscia said. "What really gives us a lift is the good start because it's an area that has really held us back a little bit."

Washburn allowed the Angel bullpen, which had pitched 8 2/3 innings during the three-game series in Toronto, to take a much-deserved night off.

"I feel like I'm in a groove," Washburn said. "I'm not hitting spots inside to right-handers as consistently as I would like, but it's pretty good. Hopefully, we can start chalking some up in the win column."

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