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Angels Take Advantage of Miscues

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jarrod Washburn made his fourth start for the Angels on Thursday night, and there were no bench-clearing brawls or ejections, no line drives into the face of fellow infielders, and no Angel season highs for runs and hits.

But a run-of-the-mill game it wasn’t for the rookie left-hander, who has been a magnet for bizarre occurrences and found himself in the middle of another odd game Thursday night. This time, some strange force seemed to prevent balls from landing in the Seattle Mariners’ gloves.

Popups that should have been caught fell to the turf, grounders went through the legs of infielders, and the Angels took full advantage, scoring 10 unanswered runs to wipe out a four-run deficit and defeat the Mariners, 11-5, before 30,268 in Edison Field.

The win gave the Angels a three-game sweep over Seattle and kept them 1 1/2 games ahead of Texas entering a three-game series against the Rangers, which begins tonight.

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“I’m not going to complain,” said Washburn, who improved to 3-0 despite giving up five runs in the first three innings. “As long as we keep winning, let the games be exciting.”

The Angels trimmed a 5-1 deficit to 5-3 thanks to Mariner third baseman Russ Davis’ two errors, which led to unearned runs in the third and sixth innings, and shoddy Seattle defense contributed to the Angels’ three-run, go-ahead rally in the seventh.

Gary DiSarcina opened with a hard grounder that went under second baseman Joey Cora’s glove, a ball that was playable but ruled a hit. Darin Erstad hit a grounder up the middle that had the makings of a double play until reliever Paul Spoljaric deflected the ball to where no infielder could make a play.

DiSarcina took third on Erstad’s grounder, and Dave Hollins, with Erstad running, skied a popup behind the infield. Cora pointed at the ball, but he should have made a run for it. While the second baseman hovered near the bag, the ball dropped in front of center fielder Ken Griffey for an RBI single.

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Craig Shipley, batting for Jim Edmonds, who suffered whiplash when he crashed into the center-field wall after catching Jay Buhner’s third-inning drive, bunted back to the mound, but Spoljaric misplayed it, and his throw to third was too late to force Erstad.

Reliever Bobby Ayala did well to retire Tim Salmon, Cecil Fielder and Garret Anderson on fly balls to center, but the drives by Salmon and Fielder were plenty deep enough to score Erstad and Hollins with the tying and go-ahead runs.

The Angels tacked on five more runs in the eighth, which included Ayala’s throwing error, Erstad’s two-run double, and RBI singles by Shipley and Fielder.

“This is a durable bunch,” Manager Terry Collins said. “I tell you, they’re resilient. There was not one time all game where we felt down, and that’s a good feeling to have.”

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The Angels are now 15-2 in June, a month that began with a brawl-filled game against Kansas City on June 2. Some believe that game galvanized the Angels, a team that wandered aimlessly through May, but Angel arms--more than fists of fury--have keyed their June surge.

If you take away Ken Hill’s injury-shortened start against Arizona on June 10, Angel starters entered Thursday night with a 12-1 record and 3.04 earned-run average this month, averaging a shade under seven innings a start.

But Washburn didn’t exactly continue that trend, giving up Griffey’s league-leading 27th homer in the first and four more in the third, two on Alex Rodriguez’s single, as the Mariners took a 5-1 lead. But he gave up only two hits from the fourth through eighth innings, and Rich DeLucia recorded the final five outs for his first save.

The loss extended the Mariners’ losing streak to five, and a team that was considered a World Series contender is now in last place, 14 games behind the Angels, and doing some serious soul-searching.

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“Sometimes when you sit home watching another team in the playoffs, your appetite to get there grows,” Rodriguez told the Tacoma News Tribune.

“The Angels are hungry. They have been since day one. When you’ve won, you have to fight complacency from day one, and I’m not sure we have--and I mean all of us--to this point.”


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