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Angels Win Again, Have Nothing to Kick About

TIMES STAFF WRITER

On the mound, Chuck Finley is as fluid and graceful as a dancer. Take him out of the game--or out to lunch--and he can’t put one foot in front of the other without endangering himself.

The Angel left-hander missed a start last Friday after he suffered a sprained right ankle in a fall on his way to a restaurant. Waiting for his next start made him especially intent to excel. And on Tuesday he did, striking out six in 6 2/3 innings as the Angels ended their eight-game trip with an 8-3 victory over the Indians.

Good as his effort was, it didn’t meet the standards Finley sets for himself. To vent his frustration as he stomped to the clubhouse, he kicked a wooden stool.

With his still-taped right foot.

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And missed.

“I whiffed it,” Finley said sheepishly. “I had to go back for seconds. If I’d used my left foot, I probably would have broken it.”

The stool, his foot and the Angels’ surge survived intact as they completed their first winning trip since July 31-Aug. 6.

The most noticeable contributions came from Finley (6-2) and Wally Joyner, who went three for four--including a home run--with four runs batted. He would have had another home run if Cory Snyder hadn’t reached back over the right-field fence to catch his drive in the eighth.

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Less obvious but no less crucial to the Angels’ fourth victory in five games were a ninth-inning double by John Orton that began a four-run burst and the 2 1/3 innings of hitless relief pitched by Bryan Harvey, who earned his fourth save in six opportunities.

Johnny Ray’s bases-loaded single in the ninth also ranked high on Manager Doug Rader’s list of key moments, along with shortstop Gary Disarcina’s deft play that turned a Jerry Browne grounder into a double play in the sixth.

“Generally the outcome is dictated by a couple of subtle things,” Rader said. “Those things probably meant as much to us as anything.”

They meant the difference between victory and defeat when defeat might have been dispiriting. “This was a big win,” said Harvey, who entered the game in the seventh after Cleveland had pulled to 4-3 and ended the inning by striking out pinch-hitter Dion James.

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“We’ve been scuffling all year and to go 5-3 on the road, well, every win is big, but when you can carry some momentum back home, that’s even bigger,” Harvey said.

Finley’s momentum can be described as moderate, with a three-game winning streak. But Joyner is definitely on a roll, getting at least one hit in 15 of 16 games and batting .434 (23 for 53) during that span. He has raised his average from .222 on May 5 to .301, a spree he can’t explain but can enjoy.

“I’m just feeling good, not trying to do too much,” said Joyner, whose two-run home run in the fifth off Tom Candiotti (4-2) gave the Angels their third and fourth runs.

“What we’ve done as a team in the last week is have some good at-bats, being more patient and selective. I watched some guys hit, and the majority of us are in midseason form. We’re not pressing and we’re not guessing.”

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Finley wasn’t second-guessing Rader’s decision to take him out in the seventh, after a single, a wild pitch, a double by Candy Maldonado and a double by Snyder gave the Indians two runs. Willie Fraser came in to pitch to Sandy Alomar Jr. and yielded an RBI-single before Harvey came in to end the inning.

“My temper’s kind of on the short side,” said Finley, whose May 8 complete-game shutout of the Orioles is the Angel staff’s only complete game. “I have high expectations for myself and when I fall short, I get mad. As long as it does nothing to physically hurt me or anybody else on the team, I think it’s all right.

“I was really disappointed to miss my start Friday. I waited too long to pitch. When you’re putting the ball where you want and then make a couple of mistakes and you’re out of the game, it’s frustrating. . . . I was cruising along, and all of a sudden it stops. Then you have to wait four, five days to crank it up again.”

Getting his fastball up and over the plate led to his downfall. “He had that one inning,” Orton said, referring to the seventh, “but other than that, he didn’t make too many mistakes.”

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Make no mistake: the Angels went home content. “We played in three difficult places for us to play in,” Rader said of the journey to Milwaukee, Toronto and Cleveland, “and I’m awfully encouraged by what took place. I’m very happy to see the ballclub play as well as it did.”

Angel Notes

General Manager Mike Port said he had “nothing to report on such matters” when asked if the Angels had filed a grievance against the Yankees for obstructing the Dave Winfield-Mike Witt trade. . . . The medical roster grew to include catcher Lance Parrish, who suffered a strained back while sliding Monday. Third baseman Jack Howell, who suffered a sprained left knee Monday, will be examined today.


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