Pat Clements restored both order and his spring credentials Monday night.
Called on in the third inning of a game that already had produced 14 hits and 11 runs, the 23-year-old left-hander shut down and shut out the potent Boston Red Sox, allowing only one hit in a six-inning stint and helping the Angels to a 7-6 victory.
Clements’s first major league victory represented the Angels fifth in a row and 11th in the last 14 games.
They trailed, 6-5, when Clements took over from Ron Romanick after Tony Armas and Mike Easler had opened the third inning with back-to-back homers.
It was 6-6 when Doug DeCinces hammered his fourth of the season off Steve Crawford in the fourth, generating the run that proved decisive. It also spoiled the return of former Angel manager John McNamara to Anaheim Stadium as manager of the Red Sox.
While this was the first of 32 straight games against the cream of the East, it’s the Angels who have risen to the top, displaying baseball’s best record (13-7) and a two-game lead in the American League West.
Boston scored two runs off Romanick in each of the first three innings, but the Angels rebounded for 13 hits, chasing Red Sox starter Mike Brown in the second and ultimately saddling Crawford with a loss that put the Red Sox under .500 (9-10) for the first time in 1985.
A crowd of 30,075 saw Donnie Moore, unscored upon in his last eight appearances, register his fourth save by pitching a flawless ninth, but it was Clements who made it possible, working six innings for the first time since he did it twice in the Double-A Eastern League playoffs last September.
“We had no right to expect him to go that long,” Manager Gene Mauch said later.
“That good, yes. That long, no.”
Pitching against a lineup that has been averaging more than five runs per game and which helped produce the league’s best team batting average of .283 last year, Clements struck out four, walked one and allowed only a sixth-inning single by Marty Barrett.
He entered with a 10.13 ERA for his first five varsity appearances, but he had begun to reclaim his March form last Wednesday, when he pitched 2 shutout innings against Oakland.
By maintaining it against Boston, he removed a measure of pressure from an injury-strafed pitching staff and extended the recent good works initiated by former farm colleagues Rafael Lugo and Stewart Cliburn in Seattle.
“I just like the way all our kids handle themselves,” Mauch said. “They just lay it out there. They just say, ‘If you get me fine, but I may get you, too.’ ”
Clements and Moore--as well as Romanick--were assisted by a series of excellent defensive plays, particularly from second baseman Bobby Grich, third baseman DeCinces and left fielder Brian Downing, who made two big catches behind Moore in the ninth.
Romanick, who won his first two starts, has allowed 15 hits and 9 runs in the 7 innings of his last two.
He yielded six hits and six runs in two-plus innings of this one, a two-run homer by Jackie Gutierrez in the second and the back-to-back homers by Armas and Easler in the third.
The Angels wasted no time rebounding against Brown, who was 1-8 with Boston last year and 0-1 at Pawtucket when recalled Sunday to replace former Angel Bruce Kison, who is on the disabled list with a hamstring pull.
A four-run first featured a Rod Carew single, an RBI double by DeCinces, who had been 0 for 15 before getting a double in the eighth inning of Sunday’s game at Seattle, an RBI single by Reggie Jackson and an RBI single by Grich.
A Carew single and a Ruppert Jones double got the Angels another run in the second, leading to Brown’s departure in favor of Crawford.
The Angels tied it at 6-6 in the third on singles by Downing and Grich and an infield ground out that scored Downing from third. Crawford then had two outs in the fourth when DeCinces provided the one-run margin that Clements, pitching as if this was still Waterbury, zealously protected.
Ken Forsch, who was expected to come off the disabled list in time to start against Toronto Wednesday night, is again nursing an inflamed elbow and is back on an uncertain timetable. Forsch said he felt fine while throwing 92 pitches in a simulated game Friday, but that the elbow was tender Saturday and ‘really hurting” during a 17-minute sideline stint Sunday.. . . The Wednesday start was going to be Forsch’s first since he dislocated a shoulder April 7 of last year. Of the latest disappointment, Forsch said: “It’s like putting a bunch of candy in your room with a magnetic field around it, and when you reach out it jumps up and shocks you. It’s stupid. It’s not fair.” . . . Dr. Lewis Yocum examined Forsch and said there was no way to predict how long it will take Forsch to ease the arm back to where it was before Friday’s simulated effort. “Ken was probably pressing,” Yocum said, “but the fact he was able to throw so hard is a good sign.” . . . The Wednesday start is now expected to go to Rafael Lugo, who made his major league debut by pitching 1 innings of shutout relief Sunday in Seattle. . . . Geoff Zahn, the original Wednesday starter, still seems headed for the 15-day disabled list because of the recurring tendinitis in his shoulder. Zahn said only a “miraculous recovery” would allow him to pitch Wednesday. . . . The probability of Zahn going on the DL coupled to the inability of Forsch to replace him means the Angels may be forced to make their third pitching recall of the first month, probably bringing back Curt Kaufman. . . . Doug Corbett received a cortisone injection for an inflamed nerve in his left knee, which was previously drained twice of excess fluid and which is scheduled for postseason surgery if Corbett can nurse it through the summer. Corbett could not pitch Monday night but is expected to be available tonight.. . . Bob Lemon, who scouts for the Yankees and was in the Anaheim Stadium press box Monday night, was asked his reaction to the reappointment of Billy Martin as Yankee manager. “At my age,” Lemon said, “I’m not surprised by anything.” Would Lemon consider a third managerial term under George Steinbrenner? “No,” he said, “he’s had his last shot at me.” . . . Mike Witt (1-3) will face Bruce Hurst (1-1) tonight.