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Grahe Still No Darling to Angels : Baseball: His earned-run average for two starts increases to 15.94 as the Twins win, 7-4. It is team’s sixth consecutive loss.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Determined to maintain a positive outlook after his team entombed itself deeper in the American League West cellar, Angel Manager Doug Rader found something to be cheerful about Monday.

“We got eight real well-pitched innings,” Rader said of the combined efforts of Joe Grahe and Chris Beasley.

But oh, that other inning.

Grahe’s second attempt to fill the fifth starting role in the pitching rotation was a near disaster, and his failure to find his equilibrium until five runs had scored spelled doom for the Angels.

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The rookie right-hander gave up four hits and two walks to the first six batters he faced, and the Angels never recovered in losing, 7-4, before 25,439 at Anaheim Stadium.

While the Oakland Athletics got seven shutout innings from veteran Ron Darling, who might have become the Angels’ fifth starter a few weeks ago, Grahe (1-2) gave up seven runs in seven innings. The last two were unearned, stemming from second baseman Luis Sojo’s bobble of a Greg Gagne grounder.

“It was a big deficit early,” said Dave Winfield, whose 399th home run tied him with Al Kaline for 23rd place on the all-time list. His 1,578th run batted in tied him for 20th with Rogers Hornsby in that category.

“We didn’t get five runs total, but we certainly didn’t quit,” Winfield said.

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“You’re going to see. We’re not going to be easy prey for anybody. Teams can’t come in here and steamroll us.”

Which is precisely what the Twins did to Grahe in handing the Angels’ their sixth consecutive loss and dropping them 11 games behind. That’s a gap that Minnesota catcher Brian Harper, a former Angel, never expected to see.

“I’m surprised, because I think they have a good team,” said Harper, who drove in two runs on a first-inning double.

“I know they don’t think they’re a last-place team. This is a tough division, a very good division. But it’s still early yet.”

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The Angels scored in the first inning on Winfield’s double-play grounder and former Twin Gary Gaetti led off the second with a homer, but Kevin Tapani (9-7) pitched into the ninth before Rick Aguilera was summoned from the bullpen to get the final out.

Getting the first out was cause for celebration for Grahe, who had failed to retire the seven batters he faced in his first start, June 18 at Milwaukee.

That streak stretched to 13 Monday: Dan Gladden singled to left, Chuck Knoblauch walked, Kent Hrbek singled to drive in Gladden, Chili Davis walked, Harper doubled into the right-field corner and Randy Bush doubled down the left-field line to score two more.

When Grahe got Shane Mack to ground to shortstop for the first out of the first inning, the crowd gave him a mock cheer.

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He not only understood, he would have joined in.

“I deserved it,” Grahe said, who was charged with a combined 12 runs--all earned--four walks and nine hits before getting an out in his two starts.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do if I’d gotten taken out again. They would have had to hide all the razor blades around here, that’s for sure.”

His earned-run average for the two starts is 15.43. However, his overall ERA is 6.94 because he also made six relief appearances.

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“When I finally got an out, I said, ‘Oh, that’s what it’s like.’ ”

But he still doesn’t know what it’s like to win a game he starts. Grahe is 0-2 as a starter, and added to Fernando Valenzuela’s 0-2 record, Scott Lewis’ 1-5 and Mike Fetters’ 0-2, that’s 1-11 for the four would-be fifth starters this season.

Still, Grahe will get another turn.

“He settled down and threw real well,” Rader said after his team’s record fell below .500 for the first time since May 9.

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“The first inning was obviously very disappointing for him and for us, but the job he and Beasley did the rest of the way was outstanding.

“A lot of good things happened tonight, but we gave up too many runs. We gave up those last two runs, and that hurt.”

Grahe said no particular pitch hurt him in the first inning.

“The only ball that wasn’t thrown well was the 0-and-2 pitch to Hrbek,” Grahe said.

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“I got that up, but other than that, I can’t pick one pitch out and say, ‘That was hammered.’ I thought I made some good pitches.

“I was able to regroup. Maybe I grew up a little bit out there tonight.”

But the amount of ground the Angels must make up grew, too.

“We’re going to keep pushing. It’s tough, but I won’t dwell on what’s happened the last two, three weeks,” Winfield said after the Angels’ seventh consecutive home loss.

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“We win, we get a little momentum and then we see what happens. We’re not a last-place team, although we’re in last place, if you know what I mean.”

(Orange County Edition) Another Grahe Day

In his two starts this season, Angel pitcher Joe Grahe allowed 13 consecutive batters to reach base before he retired the Twins’ Shane Mack in the first inning Monday. He was charged with seven runs June 18 in Milwaukee and five runs in the first inning Monday. June 18 at Milwaukee First inning 1. Paul Molitor homered 2. Jim Gantner singled 3. B.J. Surhoff singled 4. Robin Yount walked 5. Greg Vaughn singled 6. Franklin Stubbs walked 7. Willie Randolph singled (Mike Fetters replaced Grahe) Monday vs. Minnesota First inning 8. Dan Gladden singled 9. Chuck Knoblauch walked 10. Kent Hrbek singled 11. Chili Davis walked 12. Brian Harper doubled 13. Randy Bush doubled


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