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Angels Complete Rare Three-Game Sweep of the Keystone White Sox

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

The trip began with the Cleveland Indians performing as if managed by Mack Sennett.

It ended with the Chicago White Sox performing as if they were the . . . well, the Cleveland Indians.

Taking advantage of Chicago’s slapstick play, the Angels scored four runs in the first inning Sunday, three more in the second and cruised to an 11-1 victory in which they collected 17 hits in support of a six-hitter by Mike Witt and Doug Corbett.

Thus, the Angels:

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--Concluded the trip with a 5-1 record, losing only to Cleveland’s Bert Blyleven, whom they confront again tonight at Anaheim Stadium.

--Emerged with a four-game winning streak, including their first sweep of a three-game series at Comiskey Park since late June and early July of 1976.

Bouyed suddenly by a pitching staff that has allowed only 22 runs in the last 11 games and now leads the American League with a team earned-run average of 3.44, the Angels have moved nine games over .500 for the first time since May 29, 1983.

They also have a Western Division lead of 2 1/2 games over the White Sox, who have lost four in a row in an apparent attempt to provide company for the crosstown Cubs, who are in the misery of their own 12-game losing streak.

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The Angels put the broom away and played it low key.

“If the season was over we’d be in good shape in a lot of ways,” Manager Gene Mauch said.

There are 95 games left, however, but the Angels still seem in good shape, particularly the oft-maligned pitching staff. The Angels have never won a league ERA title.

“I said in the spring that I had never seen as many talented young arms,” Mauch said. “I knew if some of them developed the pitching would be very credible. Good pitching creates a healthy expectancy of winning, and that’s very important. I think we have that now.”

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Witt, whose 4 1/2 years with the Angels make him the club’s senior active pitcher in point of continuous service, worked seven innings, allowing the six hits while striking out eight. A victim of poor support early, he has now won four of his last five starts to even his record at 6-6. This was the 11th time in 15 starts Witt has held the opposition to three runs or less.

Said Mauch: “We either get Mike too many runs or not enough.”

The Angels have now restricted the White Sox to a .206 average in seven games, of which the Angels have won five. The sweep here was also enhanced by the hint of an offensive awakening. The Angels had 35 hits in the series and tied their season high for runs Sunday when they had three homers for the second straight game.

Ruppert Jones, 3 for 36 at the time, hit his ninth in the first inning, an opposite-field drive into the upper deck in left. Rob Wilfong hit his second in the fifth, a solo shot into the lower deck in right, and Mike Brown, who had six RBIs in the series, slugged his third in the sixth, a two-run shot to center.

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Rod Carew drove in three runs with a pair of singles and a ground out, and both Gary Pettis and Craig Gerber had three hits as Mauch started his 65th lineup in 67 games. This one employed seven left-handed hitters and included no one with an average higher than Bob Boone’s .264.

The blazing Juan Beniquez took his .310 average to the bench against right-handed starting pitcher Bruce Tanner, but the Angels still rolled--pushed a bit by the defensively erratic White Sox.

In the first inning, Pettis bunted safely, stole second and and continued to third on a throwing error by catcher Marc Hill, putting him in position to score on a Carew ground out. Reggie Jackson then laced a two-out single and took third on a Doug DeCinces double. The runners had come to a stop when relay man Tim Hulett made a needless throw to the plate. The ball sailed into the box seats, allowing both Jackson and DeCinces to score. Jones then homered.

In the second inning, Gerber beat out an infield hit and was on second with one out when Pettis hit a grounder to shortstop Ozzie Guillen. Gerber made a fundamental mistake of trying for third, but got away with it when Guillen, poised to throw to third, bobbled the ball and could only get the out at first. Gerber scored on a Carew single, Daryl Sconiers walked and Jackson then hit a drive to left that Rudy Law misjudged, the ball sailing over his head for a two-run double.

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In the seventh inning, Pettis singled with two outs, then scored all the way from first when center fielder Daryl Boston fell down attempting to field Carew’s second single.

The final Chicago embarrassment came in the home ninth. Guillen was on first with out one when Oscar Gamble flied to center. Guillen, thinking there were two outs, was already around second and was easily doubled for the game’s last out.

“I knew Ozzie had great instincts, but I never thought he’d end such a perfectly bleeped up series in such a perfectly bleeped up way. That’s one to remember,” Chicago Manager Tony LaRussa said.

Will the White Sox remember it?

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“This was important because we only play four series with each other,” LaRussa said. “But it’s not crucial until the results rate a team real high or real low, and that doesn’t happen until September.”

Said Mauch: “It looks like we have 10 pitchers and 15 players back to the point where they’re capable of contributing physically, and we hadn’t been to that point for a while. I have a very good feeling.”

Angel Notes The Angels are now 19-12 on the road, the best win percentage in the majors. They are home for only three games against Cleveland, then go to Kansas City for three and Texas for three. . . . Of the traditional criticism of Angel pitching, Mike Witt said: “I’ve been here five years and heard the same thing about our pitching every year. We finished second or third in the league in pitching in ’82 and now we lead it. That kind of speaks for itself.” . . . Chicago catcher Carlton Fisk did not play Sunday because of a sore ankle and 1 for 23 slump. Fisk told Chicago writers in the wake of Saturday’s game that Urbano Lugo was throwing a Venezuelan forkball or spitter. “I don’t know what all that wet stuff was coming off the ball as it came up to the plate,” Fisk said. . . . Spitter? “No way,” Angel Manager Gene Mauch said. “Lugo wouldn’t know where to start. When a pitcher makes a hitter look bad it always has to be because he’s cheating. One of these times Fisk may catch up with one of those forkballs and hit it over the roof, but so far the kid has eaten him up.” Fisk is 1 for 6 against Lugo. . . . White Sox pitcher Richard Dotson, on the disabled list with a mysterious shoulder problem, will have an arteriogram today. “If Dot’s not around it’s obviously going to make things tougher for us but we have the depth in our rotation to overcome it and still be there in September,” Manager Tony LaRussa said. . . . Tommy John, the 257-game winner who was released last week by the Angels, is negotiating with the Oakland A’s. Sandy Alderson, vice president of baseball operations for Oakland, confirmed that he’s talked with John’s agent, Bob Cohen of Beverly Hills. Said Alderson: “I just don’t know if anything will come of it or not. I will probably talk with them both tomorrow (Monday).” John will be in Oakland tonight as commentator on an ABC telecast.


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