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Fetters Fails to Take Fifth; Tigers Win, 5-3 : Angels: Latest No. 5 starter can’t do the job in his second try. Fielder hits 30th homer.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The fifth spot in the Angels’ starting rotation remains a sore spot, but it may soon become a moot point.

It won’t matter that Mike Fetters, following in the footsteps of Scott Lewis, Joe Grahe and Fernando Valenzuela, was unable to last for more than 1 2/3 innings in a 5-3 defeat by the Detroit Tigers Thursday.

It won’t matter that Fetters, Lewis, Grahe and Valenzuela are a combined 1-10 with an earned-run average of 8.89.

It won’t matter because in the past 10 days, the Angels stumbled to a 5-5 record against teams with a cumulative record of 172-233. Instead of gaining ground on the Minnesota Twins, the Angels fell eight games behind, and even they concede that they are perilously close to dropping out of contention in the American League West.

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“We’re not sitting in a very good position right now,” said catcher Lance Parrish, whose fifth-inning home run began a mild but inadequate comeback against Mark Leiter (3-2) and Mike Henneman.

“It’s time to muster up some drive and get a little momentum going,” Parrish added. “It’s time to play some hardball. It’s time to win some games. . . . We have the ingredients here. We’ve been talking all year as far as what it takes to get it going, and this ballclub definitely has the ability. I hope it’s not too late to get something going.”

Fetters was victimized by Donnie Hill’s errant flip of a probable double-play grounder in the first, but a walk and four singles in the second certified his inability to perform as well in a starting role as he has in his last relief outings.

“Mike didn’t have much command,” Manager Doug Rader said. “He was making too many pitches and he was behind to too many hitters. He had great stuff, but he didn’t have command. . . . No matter what we do, we can’t seem to resolve the problem (of the fifth starter). After today, it’s still a problem.”

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Fetters gave up four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in his first start, a 12-10 loss to the New York Yankees last Saturday. His problem Thursday, he said, was that he could not finish off hitters with two-strike counts. Cecil Fielder’s run-scoring single on a 2-and-2 pitch in the first was an example.

‘I’d get ahead, but then I’d get to 3 and 2 and I had to throw a strike because I didn’t want to walk anybody,” Fetters said. “I want to be out there again. I haven’t given up on myself. If I ever put someone away, I’ll be all right.”

Detroit’s Scott Livingstone hit his first major league homer in the fourth and Fielder added his third home run in two games and 30th of the season, a two-out drive off Floyd Bannister in the fifth.

The Angels chipped away in the fifth on Parrish’s homer--the second time Parrish has homered in successive games--and a double, an infield hit and an error. Gary Gaetti’s two-out homer ended Leiter’s outing in the eighth, but Henneman earned his 16th save in 18 opportunities, keeping the Tigers six games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the East Division.

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“Don’t hang it all on Mike Fetters,” Rader said. “The main thing is, we had the opportunities and just didn’t take advantage.”

Nor did they take advantage of a chance to reassert themselves in the division race. And it doesn’t figure to get any easier when they return to Anaheim Stadium tonight to open a nine-game home stand against Seattle, Minnesota and Oakland. The Angels are 24-26 at home, where they lost to Cleveland in their last three games.

“We’ve got a lot of ground to make up and we’re back (playing rivals) in the division, so we get that opportunity,” Rader said. “I wish things would have gone a little differently here. If they did, we’d be in a little better shape. A 5-5 trip is not bad, but at this time of the year, it’s not what you hope for. This time of year, you’ve got to do better.”

In essence, they have to put it into passing gear or their title drive will be over.

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“This home stand is going to be a big one,” Dave Parker said. “For whatever reason, we haven’t played well at home, but we’ve got to resolve that in a hurry. Less than a month ago we were in first place (after a victory over they Kansas City Royals on July 3), and now we’re eight games out. In this division, you can turn things around quickly. That’s the good thing.”

* SHORT DIES: Chris Short, a left-hander who won 132 games in 15 major league seasons, is dead at age 53. C2

* ROGER MARIS: The asterisk next to the former Yankee’s single-season home run record will be removed next month if Commissioner Fay Vincent gets his way. C6


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