Percival Gets Tagged With the Angels’ Loss : Baseball: Frank Thomas solves the reliever in the eighth inning and sparks the White Sox to a 6-1 victory.


He has been the Eliot Ness of the Angel bullpen, untouchable for most of the summer, but Troy Percival finally ran into a gang from Chicago’s South Side that he couldn’t handle.

Trailing by a run in the eighth inning Wednesday night, White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas drilled a full-count pitch from Percival over the left-field fence for a two-run homer that ignited a 6-1 victory over the Angels in front of a stunned Anaheim Stadium crowd of 21,314.

More bad news awaited the Angels in their clubhouse. Just as Garret Anderson struck out to end the game, Seattle’s Jay Buhner hit a three-run homer against Minnesota to break an eighth-inning tie and give the Mariners a 7-4 victory.


That moved Seattle five games behind the first-place Angels with 15 games left, and the Angels’ magic number remained at 11. Third-place Texas also won and moved to within 6 1/2 games of the Angels.

Percival giving up a run had been about as foreign a sight in Anaheim Stadium this year as a football game. Before Wednesday, he had given up one earned run in his previous 35 2/3 innings, a sparkling 0.25 earned-run average in those 29 outings.

The rookie right-hander replaced Chuck Finley to start the eighth after Finley had pitched seven shutout innings, and Manager Marcel Lachemann couldn’t have been more confident about the situation.

Finley had recovered from three straight shaky outings and, making his first start on three days’ rest, had thrown only 109 pitches, allowing just five hits and striking out eight. And Lachemann had his trusty closing tandem of Percival and Lee Smith ready to pitch the eighth and ninth.

Only Percival (2-1) never made it out of the eighth inning and Smith never made it into the game.

“I hate to lose a game like that when Chuck pitched so well,” said Percival, who has pitched in five of the Angels’ last six games. “I’m as fresh as I can be, but I just mentally wasn’t into it. I got balls up, and that’s not my style. I made bad pitches and they were good hitters.”


Robin Ventura opened the eighth with a single to right and Thomas followed with a homer just beyond the reach of Anderson in left to give the White Sox a 2-1 lead.

Chicago then went on to unload a season’s worth of frustration against the Angels, knocking Percival, Mike James and Bob Patterson around for three more runs in the eighth, on RBI singles by Ozzie Guillen, Lance Johnson and Tim Raines.

Finley appeared to be going strong in the seventh, but Lachemann didn’t second-guess his decision to pull the left-hander.

“You can look at it both ways,” Lachemann said. “You can push [Finley] an extra inning and, bingo, they get to him. If I had to do it over again I’d do the same thing. These things happen.

“Chuck pitched a helluva ballgame, his best outing in a long, long time. If he continues to do that well, we’ll be all right.”

Thomas closed out White Sox scoring with a bases-empty blast into the left- center field bleachers off Mike Bielecki in the ninth. It was Thomas’ 36th homer of the season--moving him into second in the A.L. behind Boston’s Mo Vaughn (37)--and helped Chicago to its second win against the Angels this season in 12 tries.


Thomas also improved his RBI total to 101, making him the fifth player in baseball history to have 100 RBIs in his first five seasons. The last player to accomplish the feat was Cleveland’s Al Rosen from 1950-54.

The four hits and four runs charged to Percival were both season highs. He hadn’t given up a run since Aug. 2, when Buhner homered off him in Anaheim, a span covering 18 2/3 innings and 16 appearances. It was only the fifth homer Percival had allowed all season.

“He’s human,” Lachemann said.

Chicago’s offensive uprising made a winner of 23-year-old right-hander Luis Andujar, who gave up only four hits, including Tony Phillips’ bases-empty home run in the fifth inning.

Andujar (2-0), who mixed his fastball, breaking ball and changeup, struck out two and walked two in his second major league start. Larry Thomas pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth for the White Sox.

* CAREW’S CHILD ILL: Rod Carew’s 17-year-old daughter has been hospitalized because of an unknown blood disorder. C8