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Orioles Get the Drop on Angels, 6-5

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Angels can only hope they hit bottom Monday night, for they are certain to hit bottom in the American League West without a quick and drastic change of direction.

Despite a four-run first inning Monday--their most productive single inning in an unproductive season--the Angels could not hold off the Baltimore Orioles, whose offensive shortcomings were as short as the Angels’. Aided by two errors, the Orioles scored five runs in the seventh--their most bountiful inning this season--for a 6-5 victory before 23,126 at Anaheim Stadium.

The sorry numbers are these: a five-game losing streak (once through the starting rotation) and 14 losses in 19 games. The Angels are 9 1/2 games behind the division-leading Oakland Athletics--their largest deficit since the end of the 1988 season, when they were 29 games out--and a mere one game ahead of the seventh-place Kansas City Royals.

For Angel starter Bert Blyleven the ugliest number was E-1, scoring shorthand for his dropped throw on a potential inning-ending toss from Wally Joyner on a ball hit to the right side by designated hitter Sam Horn in the seventh.

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“It’s my fault for missing that ball. We would have been out of the inning,” said Blyleven, who had given up only three hits before the seventh and left with two runs in and two men on base. “I’m to blame. I felt good. It’s just a little disappointing when you can’t catch a ball right to you.”

Angel Manager Doug Rader seemed most disappointed by Blyleven’s performance after that miscue.

“He quit pitching after that,” Rader said. “He went fastball, fastball, fastball, fastball to guys he hadn’t pitched fastballs to all night. You might want to substantiate it with Bert, but after that, Bert forgot he was supposed to continue pitching and I think that’s what hurt him.”

Blyleven was absolved of the loss when the Angels scored a fifth run and Mark Eichhorn (0-2) yielded a home run to Cal Ripken in the eighth. Blyleven did not dispute that he threw primarily fastballs after his error, saying they were the right pitches in the wrong locations.

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“If I get the ball down, I’m all right,” said the 39-year-old right-hander, who pitched six shutout innings last Wednesday in Baltimore. “I started a lot of hitters with fastballs. (Craig) Worthington (whose single drove in the first run) hit a ball that was up.”

Blyleven also denied that he was rattled by the error.

“Not at all,” he said. “I tried to get the next guy (Worthington) out. I took it one hitter at a time.”

The Angels took their early lead against Jay Tibbs (1-3) on three doubles, an intentional walk to Jack Howell and an RBI-single by John Orton. Tibbs retired 13 consecutive hitters, beginning with Kent Anderson in the first, but the Angels were confident they would prevail.

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“It was looking pretty good,” said Donnie Hill, who had led off the first with a double to right. “That’s what made everything later so frustrating. Everything they hit fell in. . . . Bert looked awesome. You can’t pitch any better than that.”

And the Angels can’t play any worse than they have been. “That was kind of an ugly inning,” Hill said.

No kidding. “That one tough inning beat us there,” said Dante Bichette, who drove in two runs in the first with a double but was hitless in three at-bats against Tibbs, Hickey and Gregg Olson.

“These pitchers aren’t beating us. We’re struggling offensively, but it’s going to come. We’ve got to suck it up and do it now. It’s tough, but you can’t get down about this.”

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Being down 9 1/2 games is down enough.

Angel Notes

Oriole reliever Gregg Olson’s consecutive scoreless inning streak ended at 41, the longest such streak in the American League since Luis Tiant pitched 41 scoreless innings for Cleveland in 1968. The Angels ended that in the eighth with a single, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly. “It’s over. The pressure’s off,” said Olson, the 1989 AL rookie of the year. “Now I don’t have to go out there every night worrying if I’m going to blow it.”

Left-hander Sherman Corbett was optioned to triple-A Edmonton and was replaced on the roster by right-hander Mark Clear. Clear pitched a scoreless ninth inning, striking out two and walking two.

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The Angels are 2-5 in one-run games. . . . Corbett had no record and an earned-run average of 9.00 in five appearances. Clear, who is coming back from elbow surgery, was 1-0 with Edmonton with two saves and a 3.07 ERA in 14 2/3 innings. “I needed to pitch and I wouldn’t have gotten much opportunity up here if they’d kept me as the 13th or 14th pitcher,” said Clear, who has no pain in his elbow. “Down there, I pitched in half the games we played. I got to work on my stuff and get my breaking ball going.” Corbett had been recalled from Edmonton April 12. “When I’ve had the opportunity to pitch, I’ve shown I can pitch well,” he said. “The more I pitch, the better I get.”

Second baseman Johnny Ray, who has persistent soreness in his right shoulder, was scheduled to undergo tests today at Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood.

Shortstop Dick Schofield, who hasn’t played this season because of a strained hamstring, is no longer is taking ground balls after experiencing tightness in the hamstring. Trainer Ned Bergert said he couldn’t estimate when Schofield might return.

Catcher Lance Parrish sat out his third consecutive game because of a sore left knee. However, he said he was ready if needed. . . . Hitting instructor Deron Johnson advised Luis Polonia not to let the home run he hit on Sunday make him swing for the fences. “I told him don’t try to hit 50 home runs,” Johnson said. “He should stick to his game plan.” . . . The Orioles lost outfielder Stan Jefferson to Cleveland on a waiver claim.

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