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Brewers Have the Upper Hand Over McCaskill, 6-2

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Angel catcher Ron Tingley threw three strikes to retire Brewer runners at second base Friday. That’s one more strike than starting pitcher Kirk McCaskill got from his curveball all night.

Unable to control his curveball and lacking the fastball that might have compensated for a wayward pitch, McCaskill was hammered by the Brewers for nine hits and three runs in 3 1/3 innings. Two double plays and Tingley’s accuracy kept the Angels in the game until the fifth, when Milwaukee scored twice against reliever Chris Beasley and wrested a 6-2 victory before 16,606 at County Stadium.

“When he went out there and couldn’t get his breaking stuff over, I knew it could get to be a long night and it did,” said Tingley, who caught Paul Molitor stealing in the third inning and Franklin Stubbs and Bill Spiers in the sixth. “I was hoping his curveball would come around, but it never did. . . .

“He just didn’t have the pitch to at least strike people out, get some ground balls. He didn’t have that pitch tonight. He had no breaking pitch and had to rely on just moving his fastball around, and it’s awful tough to get by with just your fastball. You have to be an overpowering pitcher, and Kirk’s not an overpowering pitcher.”

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McCaskill (10-17) was a puzzled pitcher. In losing for the 12th time in 16 decisions since June 5, he moved within two losses of the club record for a season, set in 1967 by George Brunet and matched in 1973 by Clyde Wright and in 1974 by Frank Tanana. The smooth, efficient McCaskill who shut out the Red Sox over eight innings last Saturday might have been someone else, so little did his effort Friday resemble his previous outing.

“That’s what really bothers me--to pitch that last game and come back out and throw this one,” said McCaskill, who leads the major leagues in losses. “I tried to do what I did last time, but I just didn’t do it. I didn’t have my curve, and I didn’t change speeds very well. There wasn’t a whole lot for them to guess at.”

Angel Manager Buck Rodgers, who got his first close look at McCaskill since replacing Doug Rader last Monday, saw the problem clearly.

“He struggled. He didn’t have his good closing curveball,” said Rodgers, who added he had no plans to remove McCaskill from the starting rotation. “He got guys to two strikes, but he was having trouble closing them out. He wasn’t having trouble getting to two strikes. . . . The double plays in the first and second and Tingley threw out the runner in the third (meant) we were down, 3-1, after four innings. I felt extremely fortunate.”

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Luck soon deserted them. Bill Wegman (10-6) gave up a run in the third inning on Junior Felix’s RBI single, but he held the Angels thereafter, until the seventh, by which time he had allowed only one more single. The second run came in the seventh, when Dick Schofield’s infield hit scored Dave Parker.

But by then, the Brewers had scored six times. Two runs came in the third inning on a double by Stubbs, a triple by Spiers and a grounder by Molitor that bounced between Gary Gaetti’s legs.

The Brewers added a run in the fourth inning on Spiers’ RBI single, and Jim Gantner clinched it in the fifth by doubling home Darryl Hamilton and Greg Vaughn, who had drawn walks from Beasley. Willie Randolph’s sixth-inning single, the 2,100th hit of the second baseman’s 2,100th career, drove in Milwaukee’s final run.

“We’ve made the best of some scoring opportunities, but we haven’t had that many scoring opportunities, let’s face it,” Rodgers said of his four-game tenure. “We’re not getting the gapper, the extra-base hit. I don’t think we have to hit the ball out of the ballpark, but we’re not getting the extra-base hit.”

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McCaskill would like to get out of the morass he’s been trapped in for nearly three months. “I’m still challenged by trying to salvage the season. I still have a number of starts left,” said McCaskill, whose 4.24 earned-run average is the highest among the Angels’ top four starters. “I’m not going to give up. I’m not going to give in--not after I’ve come this far.”


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