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It’s a Little Streak, but Their Own : Angels Beat Indians for Club’s Second Win in a Row, 2-1

Times Staff Writer

Oakland, Milwaukee and now Anaheim. Yes, a winning streak can happen just about anywhere nowadays.

That’s two in a row for the Angels in the wake of their 2-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians Monday night before 22,123 at Anaheim Stadium. They haven’t lost since Saturday. And, with Milwaukee beating Minnesota for its 10th straight victory, the Angels have slipped past the Twins back into sixth place in the American League West.

“You’ve got to start somewhere,” said Angel pitcher Dan Petry, who combined with Bryan Harvey to hold the Indians to 8 hits. “It may be a mini-winning streak, but it is a winning streak.”

And what better place to start than against Cleveland, which has now lost its last six games--dating back to Greg Swindell’s 3-0 shutout of the Angels in Cleveland on May 3. Monday, the Indians hit into three double plays, managed zero runs until the eighth inning . . . and afterward, Manager Doc Edwards proclaimed it “the best ballgame we’ve played in a week.”

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Of course, positives have been scarce in both the Angel and Indian dugouts of late, with the possible exception of Petry, who’s on a personal streak of his own. Now 2-2, Petry has allowed just one run in each of his last two starts, stringing together 14 scoreless innings before Cleveland pinch-hitter Ron Kittle delivered a solo home run in the eighth inning.

That Petry has a 1-1 record to show for those last two starts says something about the Angels’ plight of late. Five days ago, Petry opened this homestand with a 1-0 loss to his former Detroit Tiger teammates.

“Even though I lost that game,” Petry said, “it was a boost in my confidence. I liked the way I approached that game. I was challenging people, trusting my stuff. I was going right after people.”

Petry took that same approach against the Indians and took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh.

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“It was nice to be involved in another 1-0 game, before Brian Downing screwed it up,” Petry said with a grin.

Downing, back in the lineup after getting hit painfully by a pitch to his left forearm Sunday afternoon, drove in what proved to be the decisive run in the seventh when his two-out single scored Mark McLemore from third.

“A big run,” Petry said.

Downing had also scored the game’s first run by leading off the bottom of the first with a single off loser John Farrell (3-2), taking second on a single by Chico Walker, advancing to third on an infield out and coming home on a sacrifice fly by Chili Davis.

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His second single brought home just enough insurance for Petry and Harvey, who worked the final 1 innings for his first big-league save. It scored McLemore, the man he replaced atop Manager Cookie Rojas’ batting order, who began the seventh with a single before moving to second on Bob Boone’s sacrifice bunt and to third on Dick Schofield’s deep fly to center field.

McLemore, batting seventh in this lineup, went 3 for 3 with three singles.

So far, the Angels are 2-1 with Downing batting leadoff and for victory No. 2, Rojas credited Downing simply for volunteering to bat leadoff with a battered left arm.

“Brian Downing staying in the lineup is very important for us,” Rojas said. “Yesterday, his arm was pretty sore and this game, he had to play in pain. But it takes a hell of a lot to take him out of the lineup.”

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Downing may not be impervious to pain--he just spent 15 days on the disabled list for a strained rib muscle--but he’s played through enough of it in his career to distinguish between the serious and the mere flesh wounds. This forearm bruise, he said before the game, was scarcely worth discussing.

“It’s not like I have to catch with it,” Downing said. “All I’ve got to do is swing four times.”

Two times, he produced base hits that led to Angel runs. And that was all Petry needed for his long-awaited second victory as an Angel.

Petry gave up eight hits and two walks in 7 innings. The only run he allowed was Kittle’s pinch home run. And, most significantly, he pitched his way out of two jams created by lapses in the Angel defense.

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An error by McLemore in the fourth inning kept a Cleveland threat alive, putting runners on first and second bases with two outs before Petry could retire Brook Jacoby on a deep drive to Walker in center field.

Two innings later, Walker appeared to freeze on another drive--this by Julio Franco--and let the ball sail over his head for a leadoff double. Petry, however, stranded him there by retiring Willie Upshaw, Pat Tabler and Joe Carter in order.

“That was the old Dan Petry that I’ve seen before,” Rojas said, referring to his pitcher’s old Detroit days, when he reeled off 19- and 18-win seasons with the Tigers. “I think he’s back. There’s no question about that.”

Said Petry: “That’s the way I feel. Of course, we’ve still got 4 1/2 months to go. I’m not saying anything right now. I’ll tell you in late September.

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“But, I do feel good. I’m trusting my stuff like I was when I won 19 games. Whether I do that again remains to be seen.”

Spoken like a true Angel. When little things, such as two-game winning streaks, mean so much, you learn to keep your hopes and aspirations in check.

Angel Notes

Brian Downing (bruised forearm) and Jack Howell (jammed thumb) both found ways to ready themselves to start Monday night’s game. Downing tightly taped his left forearm--"Just to suppress the swelling,” he said--and took some hard swings in the batting cage. Howell, meanwhile, skipped batting practice altogether, keeping as much pressure of his swollen left thumb as possible. Downing was to have his arm re-examined Monday but before he left for the park, he phoned the Angel office and said, basically, don’t bother. “I just said I can play,” Downing said. “It’s not their fault I wasn’t examined; I wouldn’t let ‘em.” Downing preferred a self-examination, basing his diagnosis on previous experience. “When I broke my hand (in 1983), it didn’t feel broken the first day,” Downing said. “It was the second day when I knew. This time, I didn’t think I broke anything (after getting hit by a pitch Sunday). I wanted to see how it would react the day after. I can play with this. Besides, I’ve missed enough games. If I do get into a game and feel like it’s hurting me, and I’m hurting us, I’ll be gone.”

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Devon White visited the Angel clubhouse for the time since his Friday knee surgery, surprising teammates with his easy gait and the absence of crutches. “You can bend that knee?” George Hendrick asked White, who showed that he could. “And you don’t need crutches?” A nod from White. “Shoot,” Hendrick said, “I’ll trade you my knees for those knees, straight-up.” . . . Add White: The Angel center fielder estimated that he might be able to return to the lineup around the All-Star break in mid-July. “It could be a little earlier than that or right about that time,” White said. “I’ll be the one who determines that. I’m going to take my time and not rush it. My health comes first and I’m going to look at this as being serious. What’s the sense in me coming back too early and maybe ruining my career?”


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