Witt and Angels Win a Home Run Battle, 2-1

Times Staff Writer

If Saturday's game at Anaheim Stadium had lasted much longer, Ruppert Jones would have had some explaining to do.

His three kids were waiting for him to take them to Knott's Berry Farm.

So, when Jones led off the 10th inning with a home run off relief pitcher Bob James to give the Angels a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox, the happiest group among a crowd of 24,763 were Flynn, Gabrielle and Ranon Jones.

Not that Angel Manager Gene Mauch and winning pitcher Mike Witt weren't grateful, too.

The victory was the Angels' third straight since they lost for the 11th time in 12 games Wednesday night at New York and fell into last place.

Witt, in his second straight route-going performance since blowing a 4-0 lead in an 8-6 Angel loss at Baltimore May 27, scattered 7 hits and retired the last 10 batters he faced.

Improving his record to 7-4, matching his record of a year ago after 13 starts, Witt struck out 8 and walked only 1.

Mauch said he never doubted that Witt would come around, even after the lanky right-hander failed to pitch into the fifth inning three times in his first 10 starts, and then walked five batters in the fourth inning of his 11th. Last season, Witt pitched into the seventh inning 32 times in 34 starts and pitched four innings or less only once.

"We weren't all that concerned about him," Mauch said. "He just went into a little streak there where he wasn't making pitches like he wanted to."

It's easy to say that now, of course. Witt pitched a five-hitter at New York last Monday to end the Angels' nine-game losing streak, then came back just as strongly against the White Sox.

But two weeks ago, the Angels were concerned. Witt said he was disgusted with himself. Pitching coach Marcel Lachemann scoured the videotapes, trying to find the answer.

Apparently, he found it.

"I've just been a little more consistent with my stuff and a little bit sharper," Witt said.

The White Sox, who have hit 26 home runs in their last 12 games, scored their only run on a fourth-inning home run by Greg Walker, his 12th of the season.

In the seventh, four straight White Sox batters hit the ball hard, but they failed to score.

After Carlton Fisk and Jerry Royster singled with nobody out, Tim Hulett's line drive was knocked down by third baseman Jack Howell, who retrieved the ball in time to force Fisk.

Ozzie Guillen then lined a single to left, loading the bases.

Daryl Boston followed with a sharp grounder to first baseman Wally Joyner, who made a nice play, fielding the ball cleanly, stepping on the bag and throwing a strike to catcher Bob Boone, who made the tag on Royster for an inning-ending double play.

"That was a tough inning because they were hitting the ball hard and to get out of it like that . . . Yeah, I'd have to say it gave me a boost," Witt said, responding to a question.

The White Sox didn't get another hit.

Chicago starter Richard Dotson, meanwhile, shut down the Angels until the seventh, when Mark Ryal hit a two-out home run about 10 rows into the box seats in right field.

It was still 1-1 in the 10th, when James (2-3) relieved Dotson, who had struck out 8, walked 2 and given up only 5 hits.

"I was just trying to get on base," said Jones, a part-time outfielder who has only 43 at-bats this season but has homered in his last three starts.

Why did James' pitch, a fastball up and out over the plate, wind up about 380 feet from home plate in the right-field seats?

"Because when you're just trying to hit the ball, good things happen to you," he said.

Tell that to the White Sox.

Angel Notes

Ruppert Jones and Mark Ryal were in the lineup in place of Doug DeCinces (15 for 95) and Brian Downing (4 for 34), who were given the day off. . . . In addition to his home run, Jones also flied out deep to center in the fifth inning. "I hit the ball well," he said. "I just didn't get it into the air. I didn't get it to carry.". . . . Jones on Chicago starter Richard Dotson: "From what I've heard, they've got him on the trading block. It'd be kind of hard if I had a team to trade somebody like that." . . . Angel Manager Gene Mauch, asked by a reporter if he could see any similarities between the way pitcher Mike Witt seems to have taken off this season to the way he did last season at this time: "The only thing you could see three days ago was the bottom of the cellar." Laughs all around. "I like these guys," Mauch said, meaning his players, not the reporters.

The Angels will surpass the million mark in home attendance today on their 30th home date. They set a club record by surpassing the million mark on their 29th home date in 1983. . . . With his victory Friday night, John Candelaria improved his record against the American League West to 15-2. . . . White Sox shortstop Ozzie Guillen, who appeared to be dragging before the game, missed his first start of the season Friday night. "Took the kids to Disneyland today," he was overheard telling a group of Angel players. Guillen was back in the lineup Saturday. . . . Wives of the Angel players will be in uniform today to collect canned goods from fans entering the stadium as part of a "Stamp Out Hunger" program. Items donated will benefit the South County Community Clinic in San Juan Capistrano.

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