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Armas Comes Through Once Again for Angels

Times Staff Writer

Tony Armas settled into a new position in the Angels’ lineup Saturday night and found it suited him well.

With designated hitter Brian Downing taking the night off, Manager Doug Rader inserted Armas in Downing’s spot. And it turned out to be just the tonic Armas needed to end a couple of lengthy streaks.

One swing ended an zero-for-15 slump and a three-week streak without a home run. Armas hit a fastball from White Sox pitcher Steve Rosenberg for a solo home run in the fifth inning of the Angels’ 2-1 victory over Chicago at Anaheim Stadium.

It was his first home run since he hit a game-winning three-run homer July 4 against Texas.

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Armas struck out and sent Daryl Boston to the left-field foul pole to catch a drive in his other at-bats.

So does Armas like being a DH?

“Right now my role is to be ready when they need me,” he said. “When he (Rader) wants to give a guy some rest, I’m going to be ready. I know I can still play every day.”

Armas has spent time on the disabled list and been the fourth man in a solid outfield. Nevertheless, his contributions have been many.

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His home run was his seventh this season and raised his average to .283.

On a team without one standout batter, Armas’ hitting only adds depth to an already deep team.

For instance, the Angels have four players in double figures in home runs. And three others, Downing and Devon White, who have nine apiece, and Armas aren’t far behind.

“It seems like every time he gets a chance he does something to help the club,” Rader said. “It would be interesting to see how well we’ve played with him in the lineup. But even more interesting to see how we’ve done without him.

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“He’s a very valuable member of the ballclub.”

Rader figures the Angels are better off with Armas playing. But finding him a spot in the starting lineup is difficult. Outfielders White, Chili Davis and Claudell Washington have played most games. Armas did get a chance to play regularly when Washington missed 14 games with an injury.

Aside from that stint in right field, Armas, who played in just his 28th game Saturday, has had to make his mark when he could.

“I’m ready to play any time (Rader) wants me to,” he said. “Like tonight, he wanted to give Downing a little rest. I’m pretty happy over here and they use me.”

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Armas hasn’t been especially pleased with the way he was hitting recently, though.

He had gone hitless since July 15, a span of four games. His average had slumped from .325 down to .281 entering Saturday’s game.

This after getting off to an impressive start this season. At one point early in the year, Armas had hit in 12 consecutive games. However, with Armas playing infrequently, it covered a span of 86 days.

“I was making good contact, but I had no luck,” Armas said of his recent lack of hitting. “But I kept working.”

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