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Ailing Pettis Steals Run but Not Game as Angels Lose, 6-4

Times Staff Writer

Gary Pettis ran for Bob Boone in the eighth inning Tuesday night.

In fact, Pettis never stopped running. Not until he had scored from first on a slow grounder to third base.

He may have been running out of the fear that if he stopped, someone might ask him why he hadn’t been in the starting lineup.

Pettis, normally the center fielder, strained a shoulder muscle in somewhat of an embarrassing manner Tuesday. He talked about it only to Angel Manager Gene Mauch.

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He is on a day-to-day basis, his valuable speed and creativity a costly loss for a struggling offense that could not capitalize on 10 singles and three errors by the Texas Rangers.

The Rangers survived, hitting four solo homers in a 6-4 victory that dropped the Angels into second place in the American League West, half a game behind the Chicago White Sox.

Rafael Lugo, making his major league starting debut for the Angels, left after four innings because of a blood blister on the middle finger of his right hand.

Lugo allowed five hits and three runs, including homers by Pete O’Brien and Cliff Johnson. Successor Doug Corbett yielded a homer to Larry Parrish, and Stewart Cliburn gave up a homer to Oddibe McDowell.

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An Anaheim Stadium crowd of 22,693 saw Boone, now batting .272, deliver three hits and drive in two runs, but the Angels stranded 11 runners, including:

--Three in the sixth when Greg Harris struck out Ruppert Jones and got Rod Carew on a fly to center with the bases loaded.

--Two in the ninth when Harris struck out Doug DeCinces, Reggie Jackson and Brian Downing--who now has one hit in his last 40 at-bats--with the potential tying runs on base.

Harris pitched the last four innings to earn his fourth save. Dave Rozema, making his first start since April 24, went the first five to gain his third win in seven decisions.

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Two of the Angel runs stemmed from shortstop Curtis Wilkerson’s two-out error in the fourth. The third run was the result of a hit batter in the sixth. The fourth run was generated by Pettis’ imagination in the eighth.

Pettis had earlier told Mauch that he hurt his shoulder pulling up on the driver’s seat of his car after it had flipped forward as he got out of the automobile.

“If I knew some of these things were going to happen,” Mauch said, “I’d get ‘em a chauffeur or whatever it takes.”

The presumably sheepish Pettis was unavailable to the media. He remained in the off-limits trainer’s room before the game and could not be located after it.

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However, he demonstrated the significance of his absence--and presence--by stealing the run in the eighth.

Craig Gerber hit the slow roller to third and was thrown out by Buddy Bell. Pettis rounded second and never stopped, beating a throw to third that was caught by Wilkerson, who then flipped it to catcher Don Slaught, also covering the bag.

Slaught took a couple of steps toward the mound, and Pettis alertly took off, outracing Slaught to the unguarded plate for his 26th steal and second steal of home.

Texas Manager Bobby Valentine argued with third base umpire Don Denkinger. Valentine contended that time had been called before Pettis took off, but Denkinger ruled otherwise.

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Said Mauch, when asked if he had ever seen a similar play: “I suppose that if I thought long enough and hard enough I could come up with one, but the man (Pettis) can definitely make things happen, he can definitely do some things.”

Pettis is taking medication to reduce the inflammation. Mauch said he could not predict how long he will be restricted to pinch-running. The run he scored Tuesday night was too little and too late to salvage what would have been the third straight Angel win.

“There’s an old saying in baseball,” Mauch said, “that when you get close, you have to shut the other team down. They kept turning a one-run lead to two, and that makes a difference.”

The Angels got to 3-2, only to have Parrish homer in the sixth. They got to 4-3, only to have McDowell homer in the seventh. They got to 5-4, thanks to Pettis, only to have Bell single in a run in the ninth.

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Of Lugo’s debut as the rotation successor to Tommy John, Mauch said: “I don’t think you can judge a guy when things aren’t quite right.”

Mauch was alluding to the blood blister, which is not expected to stop the 22-year-old right-hander from making his next start.

Angel Notes

Bobby Grich, who had a cortisone shot for a tendinitis condition in his left elbow Sunday, was ready to play Tuesday but got an extra day to recover. “A sure sign I’m getting old,” Grich said, tongue in cheek, “is that I used to get a cortisone shot and be ready in 24 hours. Now it takes me 48.” . . . The Angels’ Mike Witt (3-6) faces Charlie Hough (5-5) in tonight’s series finale.

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