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It's an Angel 13-Runaway

Anaheim pounds out 22 hits, including four homers, and reduces Dodgers to using Ventura on the mound in the ninth inning.

June 26, 2004|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

The bullpen gate swung open for the ninth inning. The Dodger fans rose to their feet. The pitcher worked a scoreless inning and left the mound to a round of wild applause.

Eric Gagne? Nope, Robin Ventura.

Game Over? Well, yes, but this game was over long before the Dodgers got a little bit of laughter at the end of a laugher.

On a night only the boys in red offered any hope of October baseball in Southern California, the Angels thoroughly embarrassed the Dodgers, 13-0, Friday at Dodger Stadium. The Angels got four home runs and 22 hits, four shy of the franchise record. The Dodgers lost their fifth consecutive game, dropped into third place in the National League West and ended the evening with an infielder on the mound.

Jarrod Washburn and Derrick Turnbow, actual pitchers, combined on a four-hit shutout. Vladimir Guerrero and Jose Guillen homered in the first inning, as the Angels pounded Dodger starter Jose Lima early and often.

"When you hang it, they bang it," Lima said.

Darin Erstad, who joked last week about having one fewer home run than Hideo Nomo, hit one. So did Adam Kennedy, who had four hits and finished a double shy of the cycle.

By the end, Tim Salmon made his major league debut in left field, seldom-used catcher Josh Paul drove in his first run of the season, and Ventura pitched the ninth inning, following the hard-throwing Darren Dreifort to the mound.

"That's tough going from Dreifort to Ventura," Angel Manager Mike Scioscia joked. "That's about as much as you can do to mix it up."

Said Ventura, a 16-year veteran making his major league debut on the mound: "I probably balked a couple times. I don't even know if [catcher David] Ross even put down signs. I just started throwing."

He threw pitches as hard as 72 mph, described charitably by the scoreboard operator as "breaking ball."

Said Ventura: "It wasn't a breaking ball. They were all the same.... It was definitely below hitting speed. That was the only advantage I had."

Ventura got a fly ball from Robb Quinlan and another fly ball from Alfredo Amezaga. He gave up the first hit of his major league career on an opposite-field single by Erstad, then got Turnbow to fly out.

The inning complete, Ventura ran off the mound and waved his cap at the cheering crowd behind the Dodger dugout. The video board then displayed a picture of Ventura, with the words "Has a 0.00 career ERA."

Washburn, hampered by neck and back spasms in his previous start, shut out the Dodgers on three hits over seven innings before leaving after 91 pitches.

Lima, hampered by the gopher ball, gave up eight runs before leaving in the fifth inning after 85 pitches. He got 12 outs and gave up 11 hits, including three home runs.

"Bottom line, I stunk tonight," he said. "I'll take all the blame."

After Lima beat the New York Yankees last weekend, Dodger Manager Jim Tracy said, "He's not only staying in the rotation, he's entrenching himself into it."

But Nomo is an enormous problem in the starting rotation, and the Dodgers can't afford another one right now.

Lima, however, said he was more concerned with his teammates than with himself.

"Everybody is down," he said. "The whole team is down. I think we need to call a meeting."

The Dodgers might be playing a terrible brand of baseball right now, but for all their trouble they're 3 1/2 games out of first place with three months to go. The Angels are in third place too.

This, Lima said, is the message he would like to impress upon his teammates: "Don't give up now."

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