Angels Are Evicted From Top Spot Thanks to Four Ranger Home Runs

Times Staff Writer

The major league starting debut of 22-year-old Rafael Lugo ended after four innings Tuesday night because of a blood blister on the middle finger of his right hand.

The Texas Rangers, who had already drawn blood on solo home runs by Pete O’Brien and Cliff Johnson, hit two more off Lugo’s successors, Doug Corbett and Stewart Cliburn, en route to a 6-4 victory.

Larry Parrish homered off Corbett and Oddibe McDowell homered off Cliburn as the Rangers survived three errors and 10 California hits, all singles.

Bob Boone had three of them and drove in two runs, but it was not enough to prevent the Angels from falling into second place in the American League West, half a game behind Chicago.


Greg Harris worked the last four innings for Texas, striking out Doug DeCinces, Reggie Jackson and Brian Downing with two on in the ninth. The win went to starter Dave Rozema, now 3-4.

An Anaheim Stadium crowd of 22,693 saw Lugo, taking over a start expected to go to the soon-to-be released Tommy John, allow five hits and three runs in his abbreviated stint. Lugo came in with a 1.38 earned-run average for six relief appearances after registering a 13-8 record at double-A Waterbury last year.

Before the game, before Lugo officially joined fellow rookie Kirk McCaskill in the rotation, Angel pitching coach Marcel Lachemann reflected on the unit’s swing toward youth and said:

“It’s not going to be easy. We know that. It’s going to require a constant learning process, and we’ll just have to stay after it. We’ll just have to continue to build on it.”


It was the Rangers who built a 3-0 lead against Lugo.

O’Brien hit his sixth home run with two out in the second. Johnson hit his eighth to open the fourth.

Gary Ward followed with a double into the right-field corner, where Jackson bobbled the ball, allowing Ward to take third.

Lugo forced Ward to hold as Larry Parrish grounded to second and O’Brien struck out, but he then delivered a wild pitch that permitted the runner to score, making it 3-0.


The Angels closed to 3-2 in the fourth, capitalizing on some Texas generosity.

A Doug DeCinces single and a walk to Reggie Jackson ultimately led to a two-on, two-out situation. Rob Wilfong then hit a hard two-hopper at shortstop Curt Wilkerson, who allowed it to carom off his glove and shoulder for a run-scoring error. An ensuing single by Bob Boone brought in another unearned run.

The Rangers made it 4-2 in the sixth. It would have been more damaging except that Corbett picked off Ward, who had singled and stolen second, just before Parrish bombed his 11th home run.

The Rangers also had two on with two outs in that inning, but Corbett got Wilkerson to ground out.


Harris, who had allowed only one unearned run in his last 22 innings, was brought on to pitch in the sixth and survived a threat in which the Angels narrowed the Texas lead to 4-3.

A hit batter and singles by Wilfong and Boone produced the run. An ensuing walk loaded the bases with one out, but Harris struck out Ruppert Jones before getting Rod Carew to fly to center. Carew was making his first start since going on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his left foot May 20.

The Rangers retrieved that run in the seventh, making it 5-3 when McDowell, the former Olympic Games star from Arizona State, hammered his second home run on a full-count pitch thrown by Cliburn, who had allowed only one run in the 19 innings of his last nine appearances.

The Angels mounted a mini threat in the seventh when Jackson singled after DeCinces had reached base on a Buddy Bell error. The threat expired when Harris got Downing to ground into a double play. Downing, at that point, had one hit in his last 39 at-bats.


The Angels made it 5-4 on a strange play in the home eighth. There was one out when Boone delivered his third hit, a single to right, and came out for a pinch-runner, Gary Pettis. When Craig Gerber hit a slow grounder to third and was thrown out by Bell, Pettis rounded second and never stopped, beating O’Brien’s throw to third, where shortstop Wilkerson was covering. Wilkerson handed the ball to catcher Don Slaught, who had also raced to third.

Slaught then took a couple of steps toward the mound, preparing to return the ball to Harris, and Pettis took off for the unguarded plate, outracing Slaught for a clever steal of home, his second of the year. Texas Manager Bobby Valentine argued with third base umpire Don Denkinger that time had been called before Pettis took off, but Denkinger disagreed.

Angel Notes

Dept. of Embarrassing Injuries: Center fielder Gary Pettis was out of the Angel lineup and on a day-to-day basis after straining a muscle in his right shoulder Tuesday. Pettis told Manager Gene Mauch that he suffered the injury when he pulled up on the back of his driver’s seat after it flipped forward as he was getting out of his car. “If I knew some of these things were going to happen,” Mauch said, “I’d get ‘em a chauffeur or whatever it takes.” . . . 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.” . . . Mike Witt (3-6) faces Charlie Hough (5-5) in tonight’s series finale.