The last time Mike Bielecki pitched against the Chicago White Sox, he was just happy to be in the big leagues.
After giving up only run in 6 1/3 innings and picking up his second victory of the season May 21 in Chicago, the veteran right-hander admitted he wasn't sure he was going to survive the cut when rosters had been trimmed to 25 a week earlier.
Bielecki has pitched well enough to keep his spot in the rotation since then, but he had been struggling, suffering losses in three consecutive starts with his earned-run average inflating from 3.26 to 4.93.
Thursday night, after the rains came and went, Bielecki got another shot at the drooping Sox and again solidified his status. He gave up five hits in another 6 1/3-inning performance as the Angels beat Chicago, 5-1.
"He struggled a little bit," Manager Marcel Lachemann said. "But he battled all night long. I don't think he was very comfortable with his delivery, but to go through and get you into the seventh inning says a lot about his tenacity."
Bielecki walked six, but he didn't give up more than one hit in an inning until the seventh when Lance Johnson hit a one-hopper back to the mound that Bielecki tried to bare-hand but couldn't handle. Tim Raines followed with line-drive single to right and Lachemann went to the bullpen.
"I don't think that they really knew where it was coming from," Lachemann said.
Bielecki was charged with a run when Robin Ventura's sacrifice fly to right enabled Johnson to score.
Friend or foe? Good buddies Mark Langston (5-1) and Jim Abbott (3-2) will be the opposing pitchers tonight, as they were the night Abbott made his major league debut April 8, 1989.
Langston, then with Seattle, came out on top that day as the Mariners beat the Angels, 7-0, spoiling Abbott's debut.
Langston and Abbott worked out together at Corona del Mar High during the strike, but Langston has no desire to see his friend do well tonight.
"Mentally, you're ready to go because you know he's going to pitch a good game," Langston said, "but it's a war out there. He wants to win, but so do I. That's the way I always look at it."
Catchers in the clutch: Angel catchers, when they're not on the disabled list or in the minor leagues, have been providing some timely hitting.
Greg Myers, who is on the disabled list because of a strained quadriceps muscle, Andy Allanson, on the DL because of a laceration on the back of his left hand, and Jorge Fabregas, who spent a month in triple-A Vancouver and was playing in only his 16th game with the Angels Thursday night, have combined for eight go-ahead runs batted in and three game-tying RBIs.
Cavorting with Angels: The first of four free baseball clinics for youths ages 6 to 13 will be Saturday at Glover Stadium in Anaheim.
The program, scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon, features instruction from Angel players and coaches in pitching, fielding and hitting. On hand Saturday will be reliever Troy Percival, catcher Jorge Fabregas, utility player Mark Dalesandro, bullpen coach Bill Lachemann and bullpen catcher Mick Billmeyer.
Other clinics are scheduled for July 8 (Flower Park in Santa Ana), July 22 (Sonora High), and Aug. 5 (Oaknoll Park in Cypress).
Wives of Angel players are hosting a canned food drive to benefit the Food Distribution Center of Orange County this weekend at Anaheim Stadium. The center provides free meals to thousands of needy in the county. Fans bringing a canned food item to Saturday night's or Sunday's game against the White Sox will receive a photograph of an Angel player from the player's wife. Participating wives, who will be stationed at Gates 1, 3 and 4, include Pam Boskie, Janee DiSarcina, Dawn Easley, LeAnn Edmonds, Jennifer Hudler, Michelle Percival, Marci Salmon, Stacie Snow and Irene Williams.
Nolan Ryan, who was named to eight All-Star teams, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the 66th All-Star Game July 11 at the Ballpark in Arlington, the commissioner's office announced Thursday. Ryan, who holds major league records for strikeouts (5,714), no-hitters (seven) and seasons played (27), also threw out the first pitch before the 1985 All-Star Game in Minnesota . . . The Angels will honor Cal State Fullerton's NCAA champion baseball team and UCLA's national champion softball team before Tuesday night's game against Kansas City.