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They Zeroed In Until Brewers' Breakthrough

June 10, 2004|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

The Angels' 1-0, 17-inning loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night might have seemed like little more than a colossal waste of quality pitching, considering that it took the Brewers more than 4 1/2 hours to produce one run off five Angel pitchers.

Kelvim Escobar, Francisco Rodriguez, Scot Shields, Kevin Gregg and Ramon Ortiz combined to strike out 26 Brewers, tying a major league record, before Milwaukee's Scott Podsednik drove in Craig Counsell from first base with a 17th-inning double off Ortiz.

But the Angels' biggest offense was an offense that managed four hits off six Brewer pitchers, who extended the Angels' scoreless streak to 32 innings.

"You hate to waste that much good pitching and not be able to support it with a run here or there, but that's the way the game gets sometimes," Angel Manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday. "Offensively, there are some guys that are pressing a little bit and trying to do a little too much."

One such player appears to be Raul Mondesi, who popped out with the bases loaded, on a 2-and-0 pitch, to end the 12th and finished hitless in seven at-bats to drop his batting average to .118. Mondesi was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday after an MRI exam revealed a torn right thigh muscle.

The offensive ineptitude overshadowed another quality start by Escobar, who struck out 11 in eight scoreless innings, lowering his earned-run average in two June starts to 0.56.

Escobar was nearly as impressive as Milwaukee starter Ben Sheets, whose bid for a perfect game was broken up by Vladimir Guerrero's two-out single in the seventh inning. Sheets held the Angels to one hit in nine innings.

"Escobar and Sheets matched each other pitch for pitch," Scioscia said. "It was a heck of a duel."

The teams' bullpens also engaged in a lengthy standoff before Milwaukee broke through to hand the Angels their fourth consecutive loss, which dropped them into a first-place tie in the American League West with the Oakland Athletics. It was the first time the Angels had not held sole possession of first place since May 5.

"When you go through such a long game like that, you don't want to lose," said Escobar, who gave up four hits and one walk. "It's disappointing when you play 17 innings and you end up losing the game."

Ortiz (2-5) pitched admirably despite taking the loss, striking out five and giving up two hits in three innings.

"I'm really proud of the way [he] stepped it up out there because it's a tough situation for him to come down there," Angel closer Troy Percival said. "He keeps taking the ball and going out there and doing what he's asked. He's really improved."

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