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Yankees Walk Away With It

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Chuck Finley’s luck is getting better. The Angels’ luck, as always, is a given.

The Angels got eight shutout innings from Finley on Thursday night but couldn’t muster a run and paid for it. The New York Yankees simply waited out their nemesis, then beat the Angel bullpen.

Tino Martinez’s two-run double in the 10th inning broke a scoreless tie, propelling the New York Yankees to a 3-0 victory in front of 42,915 at Edison Field.

On the upside for the Angels, Finley wasn’t carried off on a stretcher.

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“It’s great to look up in the eighth inning and see him still on the mound,” Angel Manager Terry Collins said. “Any time you get a performance like we did from Chuck, against them, and a couple of chances to win the game, it’s really tough [to lose].”

Finley struck out nine and gave up only four hits. It was the type of performance the Angels would like to see more of, which is why they are still looking to deal for a pitcher before tonight’s trading deadline.

They are one of four teams in the running for Toronto’s Juan Guzman, who kept the Angels in first place by shutting out the Texas Rangers on Thursday. The Angels are also interested in St. Louis’ Todd Stottlemyre, Montreal’s Carlos Perez and Kansas City’s Tim Belcher.

The starting pitching wasn’t a problem Thursday. It was the bullpen that let the Angels down Thursday. Rich DeLucia entered and walked three consecutive batters to start the 10th. Mike Holtz followed and Martinez, who had left the bases loaded in the third, ripped a double into the right-field corner. Chad Curtis’ sacrifice fly scored a third run.

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But the Angels did get Finley through without incident. It was something to grasp.

“It’s been a while since I’ve seen him with that kind of command,” Collins said.

Heck, it’s been a while since he’d seen Finley on his feet.

Finley has been drilled by line drives four times this season, once while sitting in the dugout.

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The most recent came in his last start, when a Jeff King line drive ricocheted off Finley’s elbow, knocking him out of the game in the third inning. In the start before that, Finley left in the fourth after ripping a gash in his right knee when he lost his footing covering first base.

Add those to last season’s mishaps--the tumble he took backing up home plate (broken wrist) and the bat that hit him in the eye (another broken bone)--and it’s little wonder that the mere mention of Finley’s name makes his teammates nervous.

“Chuck? The man in the plastic bubble?” shortstop Gary DiSarcina said.

“He’s had so much stuff happen to him, that he’s do for some good breaks.”

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His luck improved Thursday. His only bad break was the fact the Angels couldn’t get him a run. They had few opportunities against Yankee starter Andy Pettitte, who went seven innings, and squandered the ones they got.

The Angels had two on with two out in the first, but Dave Hollins struck out. They had two on with two out in the sixth, but Garret Anderson grounded out. They had two on with two out in the ninth, but Cecil Fielder grounded out.

Anderson did extend his club record hitting streak--the longest in the major leagues this season--to 27 games with a second-inning single. But he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.

So Finley was left to go it alone. The question was, could he?

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“What [pitching coach] Marcel Lachemann and I are concerned about is what shape Chuck is in,” Collins said before the game. “He’s left a couple games early and we’ve held him out a couple times.

“But you know Chuck. He can warm up and throw 100 pitches on the first day off spring training.”

From his mouth to Finley’s ears. Finley threw 126 pitches Thursday. He gave up four hits and walked four.

This is nothing new where the Yankees are concerned. Finley is 15-8 lifetime against them and has won eight of his last nine decisions. The Yankees had two on with one out in the first, but Finley got Bernie Williams to foul out and Martinez to ground out. Finley got out of the third by striking out Martinez looking with the bases loaded.

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* ANGEL REPORT, C12

* COLD STOVE LEAGUE: While everyone waited for the big names to move, the Braves acquired Greg Colbrunn and the Red Sox got Mike Stanley. C10


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