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FAMILIAR SCENE : Dave Henderson’s Performance Helps A’s Turn It Around Against Angels

Times Staff Writer

Dave Henderson found a new way to beat the Angels on Wednesday.

In addition to the traditional methods, hitting and fielding, he also used sleight of hand to help Oakland to a 9-5 victory.

Here was the situation:

The Athletics had scored two runs in the fourth inning to make it 3-3. With one out, Henderson, who had singled in Dave Parker and Mark McGwire, was at third base. Ron Hassey, who had singled, was at first.

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Tony Phillips then hit a grounder to second baseman Johnny Ray, who threw home trying to get Henderson instead of flipping to Dick Schofield to start a double play.

Henderson slid across home plate safely under the tag of catcher Bill Schroeder, putting the Athletics ahead, 4-3.

Then came the sneaky part.

Schroeder bounded to his feet to argue the call with home plate umpire Al Clark and Henderson jumped up in the midst of the shouting.

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As Schroeder and Clark stood chest to chest, Henderson positioned himself to shield Schroeder’s view of the field while furiously waving his hand behind his back, signaling Hassey and Phillips to take an extra base.

Both runners were safe as Schroeder stood at the plate.

Although Clark sent Phillips back to first, ruling that he started toward second as time was called, Hassey was allowed to stay at third.

Rule it an error on the catcher and a nice block by Henderson.

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Hassey then scored on Mike Gallego’s fly ball and the A’s led, 5-3.

Henderson finished the day three for four with two runs batted in. He also made a sprinting catch of Brian Downing’s bases-loaded drive at the center-field wall in the seventh, ending an Angel rally.

“I’m always thrilled by great defensive plays,” Oakland Manager Tony La Russa said. “That was the best catch he’s made this year. With the game on the line, that becomes an even better catch. That saved the ballgame for us.”

Rickey Henderson had a good view of the catch from his left-field position.

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“He (Downing) hit the mess out of the ball, but (Henderson) got a great jump on the ball and busted his butt to catch it,” he said.

Henderson crashed into the fence as he caught the ball, but held on. Downing took his frustration out on his helmet, throwing it into right field.

“I just took off running and came up with the ball,” Henderson said. He added that he had a feeling that Downing would get a fastball and hit it deep to center.

“All the years playing against Downing, I knew he was going to hit the ball that way. And hard,” Henderson said.

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Henderson also helped spark the A’s offense, which was shut out Tuesday night and had no home runs in the first two games against the Angels.

Wednesday, Oakland had 14 hits, including a home run and two doubles.

“We finally scored some runs. It was that simple,” Henderson said.

Henderson was three for four with two runs scored and two runs batted in.

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“He started the season well, but went into a (slump),” La Russa said of Henderson, who tried to take up the slack while Jose Canseco was on the disabled list the first half of the season. “I think a lot had to do with the responsibilities he placed on himself.”

But the A’s are back to full strength and Henderson, hitting .257, is confident.

“It’s my time of the year,” he said. “I always swing the bat well in the second half of the season.”


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