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Royals Knock Angels Out of First, 4-1

Times Staff Writer

The Angels continue to post more zeroes than found in their seven-figure salaries. They had eight more Saturday night, making it 26 in a row.

Mark Gubicza of the Kansas City Royals was within two outs of handing the Angels a third straight shutout for only the second time in their 25-year history when the string ended.

It may be little noted nor long remembered, but the Angels scored a run at 9:16 Saturday night, the first since early Wednesday morning, when they beat the Baltimore Orioles, 6-5, in 15 innings.

The ninth-inning run they scored in this one only served to deprive Gubicza of his first complete game since July 19 of last year and his third career shutout.

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Dan Quisenberry ultimately preserved Gubicza’s 4-1 victory, notching his 11th save by getting Reggie Jackson, who had already struck out twice, to ground into a game-ending double play.

An Anaheim Stadium crowd of 46,393 saw Ball Night become Bat Night only for the Royals, who moved into a half-game, American League West lead over the Angels, the division leader since April 25.

The Angels have lost seven of their last 10 games and scored just three runs in the last 41 innings.

In the wake of a one-hitter by Dennis Martinez Wednesday night and a seven-hitter by Bret Saberhagen Friday night, the Angels collected only five hits Saturday night, three in their final at-bat.

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The team batting average is a league- and season-low .232.

Of Saturday’s starters, only two emerged with batting averages of more than .248: Juan Beniquez at .276 and Bob Boone at .262.

Brian Downing, batting .209, is hitless in his last 28 at-bats. Ruppert Jones, who drove in the run, had been hitless in his last 20. Jackson has only two RBIs in his last 18 games and 4 hits in his last 30 at-bats. Gary Pettis has 3 hits in his last 21 at-bats, and Dick Schofield has 4 hits in his last 31 at-bats.

Asked if his team was down spiritually as well as statistically, Angel Manager Gene Mauch said: “Hell, no. They’ve been through this before. The last nine or 10 games haven’t been fun for anybody, but they’ve got some coming that are going to be a lot of fun for everybody. The runs will come. I think it will start tomorrow.”

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The run in the ninth may have been an elixir.

“Yes,” Mauch said, “I feel better about it.”

Daryl Sconiers pinch-hit for Schofield and opened the inning with a double, on which center fielder Willie Wilson almost made a diving catch. Wilson jarred his right collarbone in the process and left the game with an injury believed only to be a bruise.

One out later, Jones hit a sinking liner to right, where Pat Sheridan almost made a diving catch. The ball rolled free for an RBI single, bringing on Quisenberry, who yielded a single to Beniquez before getting Jackson to ground into the double play.

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“The way we’re going,” Mauch said later, “Wilson and Sheridan could have caught both of those they got their gloves on.

“Pretty soon we’ll start hitting them where they can’t get their gloves on.”

Said Bobby Grich: “We looked a little better tonight. We at least hit some line drives. Outside of Beniquez and Boone, the rest of the team is not hitting. That’s obvious.

“You go into slumps gradually and you come of them gradually. Nothing happens in baseball overnight. The fans, players and management have to be patient, have to ride it out.

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“It may take four days. It may take three weeks. Hopefully, it will take four days.”

Gubicza, a 22-year-old right-hander who was 10-14 as a rookie last year, came in with a 1-4 record and 4.95 earned-run average. He had not won since May 14 and had allowed 17 hits and 14 walks in the 16 innings of his last three starts.

This time he walked three, struck out three and allowed only a second-inning single by Doug DeCinces and a sixth-inning single by Boone until the ninth. The Angels’ only other threat came in the seventh, when Gubicza issued consecutive walks to Beniquez and Jackson with one out. DeCinces then lined into a double play.

The Angels turned four double plays, increasing their major league-leading total to 83 in 53 games, but it did not prevent Kansas City from saddling Jim Slaton with his fourth loss against four victories.

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Slaton, 3-0 in April, has won only one of his last eight starts, a span in which he’s allowed 24 runs and 53 hits in 42 innings, his ERA going from 2.45 to 3.80.

A pair of walks and a Sheridan double gave the Royals their first run in the second. Consecutive doubles by Jim Sundberg and Onix Concepcion produced two more in the fourth. Slaton was replaced then by Doug Corbett, who yielded a final run in the seventh on a walk and double by Jorge Orta.

Grich shook his head later and said: “I don’t know if we’re making the pitchers look good or if they’ve just been this good. I think we’re making them look good.”

Angel Notes

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Kansas City third baseman George Brett, who missed 23 days with a pulled left hamstring muscle last season, was sidelined Saturday by a pulled right hamstring suffered in Friday night’s game. The injury is not thought as severe as last year’s, but Brett will be re-examined by Drs. Lewis Yocum and Jules Rasinski today, when it will be determined whether Brett must go on the disabled list. . . . The odds on an Angel deal before the June 15 interleague trading deadline: “50-50,” General Manager Mike Port said. . . . A trade for the Cleveland Indians’ Bert Blyleven would not be governed by the interleague deadline, however. “We didn’t talk today,” Port said, “but it’s not dead.” . . . Rod Carew, recovering from a stress fracture of his left foot, could be activated before Monday night’s series opener with the Texas Rangers, Port said. The tough part: How to find roster room. . . . Geoff Zahn said he is starting to make progress in his struggle with a shoulder inflammation that put him on the disabled list April 30. He has thrown five times since the Angels left on their last trip, including a 15-minute stint off the mound Saturday. “There’s still no timetable,” Zahn said, “but I feel that the chances I’ll be back are better than they were two weeks ago.


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