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DiSarcina Resumes Lead Role for Angels

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Angel center fielder Rex Hudler is beginning to feel self-conscious about hogging the spotlight, so he seemed relieved to share it with a few friends during Saturday night’s 8-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in front of 35,350 in Anaheim Stadium.

Shawn Boskie gave up seven hits in eight innings to win his third consecutive start, and shortstop Gary DiSarcina--remember him, the 1995 all-star, the guy who used to be able to field and hit?--had four hits, including a three-run homer, as the Angels ran their winning streak to four.

The victory pushed the Angels (27-26) above .500 for the first time since May 12 and marked the first time in a week--despite winning six of their last eight games--the Angels gained ground on Texas, moving to 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Rangers.

It also nudged Hudler, who was three for five, away from the focal point of the Angel clubhouse after the game.

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“It’s June 1 and I’m out of quotes. I’m so happy Gary [DiSarcina] whacked some balls tonight,” Hudler said. “He was the man.”

DiSarcina, who hit .307 in 1995, had almost forgotten what that feeling was like. He took a .207 average into the game and had only four hits in his last 25 at-bats, but he matched that hit total Saturday, raising his average to .226.

DiSarcina began the Angels’ eight-run third inning with a single and topped it off with a three-run homer to left, his first home run since last July 15. He also received a congratulatory handshake and pep talk from new Angel President Tony Tavares afterward.

“I’ve been trying to tell myself the whole year to keep grinding it out, forget about the first month and past failures and try to do something little each day,” DiSarcina said.

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“I never expected a game like this, but it just sort of happened as the night went along. I had more production in one inning than I had the last three weeks.”

DiSarcina, the Angels’ No. 9 hitter, is exaggerating, but not much. He had three RBIs in his last 10 games, a span of just under two weeks. As for Saturday’s outburst, he couldn’t have done it without--who else?--Hudler, the Angel leadoff batter.

“The reason I got some good pitches to hit was because Rex was hitting behind me,” DiSarcina said. “He’s the Oriole killer.”

Hudler, who had five RBIs against the Orioles Friday night, had another big game Saturday, but this has become routine.

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In six games this past week, Hudler went 13 for 25 (.520) with two homers and seven RBIs.

In his last 22 games, the utility-player-turned-regular is batting .395 (32 for 81) with 23 runs, five doubles, eight homers and 17 RBIs.

Hudler’s single, which followed DiSarcina’s single, was just a small part of the the Angels’ third-inning rally, which included Tim Salmon’s two-run double and RBI singles by Don Slaught and Randy Velarde.

DiSarcina capped it with his homer off Oriole starter Jimmy Haynes.

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The eight-run inning was a season-high for the Angels.

It also gave Boskie a huge cushion--which can be dangerous.

The right-hander landed in the bullpen after failing to hold an eight-run lead against Seattle April 15, and he stumbled in the fifth Saturday when he allowed three runs and began pitching defensively.

But Boskie snapped out of the funk, holding the Orioles scoreless over the next three innings before giving way to Mike James.

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“I never got really comfortable, like I was on cruise control,” Boskie said.

“I felt like I was scratching and clawing, like I was in and out of rhythm all night.”


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