Offense Makes It Easy for Langston : Angels: He goes all the way for third victory in a row. Joyner's three-run homer keys 10-2 romp over Yankees.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The difference is more than semantic.

No longer fearful that he might have to pitch a shutout to win, Mark Langston this season has shown a boldness that appeared last season only in spurts and only after it was too late to make a difference in the AL West race.

Langston won his third game in a row Wednesday, matching his longest streak as an Angel, striking out six and pitching a complete game in a 10-2 rout of the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

"He was a little erratic at times, but he made good pitches when he had to," catcher Lance Parrish said. "When he had to come through, he came through. And that's what makes a winner."

Langston hasn't completely obliterated some nightmarish aspects of his 10-17 performance in 1990: He gave up five walks Wednesday, and the Yankees scored their runs on a two-run home run by Jesse Barfield with two out in the third.

But the good has far outweighed the bad for Langston, whose 4-1 record represents the most he has been over .500 since he joined the Angels.

"Really the only difference, other than a few modifications, is that he expects to win this year and he hoped to win last year," Angel Manager Doug Rader said. "That may seem small, but it's monumental."

His great expectations are based on his confidence that that the Angels' offense will provide enough runs for him to challenge hitters with his fastball, daring them to hit his best pitch. So far, the offense has obliged him.

On Wednesday, AL batting leader Wally Joyner led the way with a three-run home run in the third off Chuck Cary (1-4), his first home run off a left-hander since his grand slam off Milwaukee's Tony Fossas on May 27, 1990. Joyner raised his batting average to .364 and extended his hitting streak to 11 games. He is hitting .444 (20 for 45) in that span.

"It's one of those things where you're not going to really enjoy it until it's over," he said. "If I start enjoying it, that's looking at it as if it's going to stop sometime."

Parrish started emerging from a lengthy slump, hitting a two-run homer in the six-run spree in the third. He added an RBI double in the fifth, when the Angels hit double figures in runs. "I might have stumbled onto something tonight," said Parrish, who was one for 18 before the homer. "It might be the start of something good for me."

Langston didn't mind waiting while the Angels sent nine hitters to the plate in the third, knocking Cary out of the game.

"It's a tremendous feeling. You know you've just got to go out and throw strikes," Langston said. "I didn't do that (he gave up a double to Don Mattingly before Barfield's homer), but I was more aggressive instead of just aiming the ball.

"This is a game of confidence. You can get on little rolls like that. I've done it in the past and it builds. It's definitely a lot more fun to win. If you go out there every time and keep the game close, we do have the offense to put runs on the board. Fortunately for me, they've put a few runs on the board for me."

Said Parrish: "The game before this (a 12-2 victory at Cleveland last Friday) I think he was zeroed in a little better and was a little more aggressive than he was tonight, but he seemed very confident on the mound. I really believe every time he goes out he expects to win."

Getting through the last few innings was important to Langston and to the weary arms in the Angel bullpen. He threw 135 pitches, more than he would normally be permitted to throw, but the Angels' lead eased the pressure on him.

"It meant a lot to me to finish, not only to give (the bullpen) a day off, but it gives me a lot more confidence," Langston said.

"Confidence is something I didn't have a lot of. I was lacking some confidence and trying to aim the ball, put it in spots, and my style is to throw the ball and let what happens, happen. The last three innings, I kept telling myself to go out and throw strikes and go after people."

His inability to do that last year has been forgotten. "I had a bad year last year. There's no excuses," he said. "I just did not pitch well. But this is a brand-new year, and we're a different team, a completely different team. All that stuff last year is out of my mind."

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