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Angels Get Bleaker by the Game : Baseball: They lose for the eighth time in nine games as A’s prevail, 5-4. It’s McCaskill’s 10th loss in his last 12 decisions.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dave Parker said he would leave Anaheim Stadium with his head up after the Angels’ 5-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics Friday night.

Pride might be all that’s left for the Angels to salvage from this season.

Their eighth loss in nine games and 22nd in their last 31 dropped the Angels 12 games behind the division-leading Minnesota Twins and 3 1/2 games out of sixth place.

“We played hard. That’s 90% of the battle,” said Parker, whose three-run home run in the sixth inning trimmed a 5-1 Oakland lead to 5-4.

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But hopes of completing the comeback were quashed when Rick Honeycutt pitched 1 2/3 perfect innings and Dennis Eckersley pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 31st save and keep the A’s four games behind the Twins.

“We were in it until the last out of the ninth and we put forth a good effort,” Parker said. “We don’t feel good about it--nobody feels good about losing. We at least played good, aggressive baseball. We just fell short.”

Before a crowd of 41,169, they got off to a fast start when Luis Polonia, a former Oakland player, came all the way home on a hit off the end of his bat. The inside-the-park home run was the second of Polonia’s career and the 19th in club history. He

never hesitated after the ball took an odd carom off the left-field wall and bounced away from Rickey Henderson, who fell to one knee.

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Although Henderson’s misplay could have rattled Dave Stewart (9-6), who is struggling after winning 84 games the past four seasons, the Oakland starter said it didn’t bother him.

“I didn’t give it much thought. I don’t mind aggressive mistakes like Rickey’s,” Stewart said. “He just misplayed the ball. It was just an aggressive error.”

Polonia, whose other inside-the-park home run came against the New York Yankees--his other former team--had no comment after the game. He was thrown out at second twice by Oakland catcher Terry Steinbach, in the third after he singled to center and again in the sixth after he walked.

Kirk McCaskill (8-15) was unable to protect the lead. Jose Canseco led off the fourth with his 31st home run, a drive into the right-field seats that he paused to admire before he circled the bases, and the A’s surged ahead on back-to-back doubles by Harold Baines and Steinbach. A sacrifice fly provided the third run, and Oakland added two more in the fifth. After McCaskill walked Canseco and Baines, Steinbach lined a double down the left-field line, signaling the end of McCaskill’s outing.

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“Kirk’s really fighting it. You really empathize with him,” said Manager Doug Rader, whose tenuous hold on his job wasn’t strengthened by his team’s sixth loss in seven games on this home stand and seventh in eight games against the A’s this season.

“Kirk wants to do well and get the job done and he wants it so terribly badly, it makes it almost impossible for him to succeed,” Rader added. “If he’s given to human frailty, it’s that he tried too hard, too badly. . . . (After Canseco’s homer) he was trying to do too much, to make the perfect pitch instead of what he knows is good enough to get a hitter out.”

McCaskill had little to say after his 10th loss in his last 12 decisions. “I didn’t do my job. We lost the game,” he said.

They lost despite Parker’s homer, his fourth off his friend and former teammate, Stewart, and they lost despite another good relief performance from Chris Beasley, who has given up only one run in six appearances. But that they lost with valor doesn’t change the standings.

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“There’s no question that these guys are able to play the game of baseball,” Rader said. “They’ve got the ability to come back, the ability to score runs. What they did today was outstanding. They came back and scored some runs, threatened, got good pitching out of the bullpen, that’s great to see. But as has been the case more often than not this year, that effort has not been rewarded.

“It’s not a matter of belief right now--it’s a matter of allowing it to happen. It’s not a lack of belief in one another, but the ability to relax and let it happen.”


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