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Witt’s Complete Game Isn’t Complete Success : Angels Lose Their Fourth Straight, 4-2, as He Gives Royals 4 Runs on 9 Hits

Times Staff Writer

About the only thing Angel Manager Cookie Rojas and his starting pitcher, Mike Witt, saw eye-to-eye on during the aftermath of Wednesday night’s game was the final score. Yes, the Kansas City Royals did beat the Angels, 4-2, before an Anaheim Stadium crowd of 21,550.

Other than that, it was point, counterpoint.

--On Witt’s 9-hit, 4-run complete-game performance:

Said Rojas: “He pitched pretty well. If we’d given him some runs, he pitched well enough to win.”

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Said Witt: “If you go out there and pitch 9 innings and give up 3 runs, you should win more than half the time. But if you give up 4 runs, you’re going to lose three-fourths of your games--and you should lose three-fourths of them.

--On the fact that Witt went 16 consecutive innings without striking out a batter before Wednesday’s eighth inning.

Rojas: “Do you think Nolan Ryan is throwing the same today as he did 10 years ago with the California Angels? Is it possible that Nolan Ryan’s not the same pitcher he was 20 years ago? . . . (Witt) doesn’t strike out as many people as he once did. Maybe he’s not throwing the same fastball. Maybe hitters are getting smarter and looking for his curveball.”

Witt: “It’s no big deal. I didn’t even know that. . . . If you throw a number out at me, and I’m not even aware of it, I would say I’m not too concerned about it.”

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--On the chance that Witt (13-13) can still salvage a fifth straight 15-win season:

Rojas: “He’s gone from 2-7 to 13-13. I don’t think that’s too bad. He has three more starts, and if he wins them, that’s 16-13. Well, that’s just about the same performance he’s had the last four or five years.”

Witt: “Now is not a good time to talk to me about that. I just lost a game. Now’s not the time to talk about it.”

This loss, mainly a result of the combined 6-hit pitching of Kansas City’s Floyd Bannister (11-12), Tom Gordon and Steve Farr, was the Angels’ fourth straight, evening their record at 73-73.

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The Angels trailed, 1-0, after one inning, then fell behind, 3-0, after 5 1/2, managing just two singles until Brian Downing hit his 22nd home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth.

The Angels scored their other run in the ninth, an inning that began with Wally Joyner singling to right and Chili Davis reaching base on an infield error. Joyner scored on a double-play grounder by Tony Armas before Farr could wrap up his 20th save by inducing pinch-hitter Devon White to ground to second base for the final out.

Bannister worked seven innings and allowed just three hits. Gordon yielded one hit in the eighth inning, and Farr allowed two in the ninth.

All in all, it was a drab performance by the Angels, and afterward, Rojas was asked, half-facetiously, if his club was suffering from “post-elimination letdown.”

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Rojas, whose club was mathematically removed from the American League West race Tuesday night, failed to see the humor in the question.

“I don’t see any letdown,” he retorted. “Bannister pitched a three-hitter until the eighth inning. I don’t see that as a letdown. That’s good pitching. We’re just not hitting the ball like we can, like we’re capable of doing.”

As a result, it didn’t take much by the Royals to beat Witt and the Angels.

Kansas City scored its first run with the help of Witt’s right shin. With Kevin Seitzer on first base in the first inning, Bill Pecota lined a ball off Witt’s leg with such force that Witt appeared to punt the ball into shallow left field. By the time the Angels ran the ball down, Seitzer was standing on third base, from where he scored on Pat Tabler’s infield out.

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With four more singles in the sixth inning, the Royals added two more runs. Driving in the runs were singles No. 2 and 3, by Tabler and Danny Tartabull, respectively.

Kansas City scored its final run in the eighth inning on a bases-loaded infield single by Frank White.

“I seemed to be in and out with my command,” Witt said. “I’d have it--and then I didn’t have it.

“Other than the hits by Tabler and Tartabull, I was getting ahead of guys (in the count). They just scored when they got the opportunities.”

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Someone then put the post-elimination letdown question to Witt.

“Well, you know you’re not playing to be a first-place team,” Witt said, “but you can still play to get second or third. Just because the numbers said we were eliminated last night, that doesn’t mean we weren’t thinking about it.

“It was inevitable.”

The same can’t be said for the Angels and third place. After Wednesday’s defeat, they trail third-place Kansas City by 5 1/2 games. Only 16 games remain on the Angels’ schedule.

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