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Angels Push Problems to Side and End Losing Streak at Seven

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

The angst-filled Angels actually won a baseball game Saturday, taking a few hours from their busy schedule of team meetings, psychoanalysis and crisis management seminars to beat Detroit, 7-4, before 36,651 in Tiger Stadium.

The latest conflict in this strife-filled season involved an off-the-cuff remark an unidentified player told a reporter after a lengthy team meeting Friday. The gist of the comment, according to a source, was that the meeting was a waste of time.

Word of the remark got back to Angel coaches, who were infuriated, and to other Angels, who were so angry they called a players-only meeting before Saturday’s game to discuss the matter.

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Said first baseman Mo Vaughn: “I’m sick of guys not looking in the mirror, pointing fingers, and not being able to take constructive criticism. It’s tiring.

“You have to be able to admit your faults. I’m tired of hearing excuses and placing blame on other things. Until you understand that, you’re going to struggle.”

Vaughn didn’t know who made the comment, “but I’d love to find out,” he said. “When things like that get out it’s insubordination all the way. The clubhouse is like a fraternity. When you break that, I have nothing to say to you. . . .

“This is a man’s game. If you’re going to be a punk, you can’t play this game. Everyone should do a lot more listening and a lot less talking around here.”

Shortstop Gary DiSarcina could only shake his head in amazement at this latest problem.

“I’ve seen a lot of things around here this season that I haven’t seen before,” he said. “A lot of stuff is being aired out in the papers. When I came up in the big leagues, you didn’t do that. There’s an old saying: This game weeds things out.”

If some players are growing tired of team meetings--and when you’re playing like the Angels, who were in danger of having baseball’s worst record until they ended a seven-game losing streak Saturday, there are a lot of team meetings--DiSarcina has a solution: “Winning stops meetings.”

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Maybe the Angels won’t need one today. They scored four runs in the third inning Saturday, on RBI singles by DiSarcina and Tim Salmon and Jim Edmonds’ two-run double, and when Detroit cut the lead to 4-2 in the sixth, the Angels put the game away with a three-run seventh, which included Garret Anderson’s two-run double and Vaughn’s sacrifice fly.

The Angels, who scored 18 runs during their seven-game losing streak, scored seven runs for the second consecutive game. Anderson and Salmon each had three hits, and Trent Durrington had two hits, including a rally-igniting double in the third, and scored two runs.

“We’re starting to come around a little,” said Manager Terry Collins, who was ejected after an explosive sixth-inning argument with first-base umpire Greg Kosc after Salmon was picked off first. “I knew when these guys started getting healthy, they were going to hit.”

Of course, now that the offense is getting healthy, it only figured that a starting pitcher would get hurt Saturday. That’s how this season has gone for the Angels, who can’t seem to put good pitching, hitting, defense--and good health--together for any extended periods of time.

Ken Hill, who gave up one run on four hits, had to come out of Saturday’s game with one out in the fourth inning because of a tight right groin. The severity of the injury won’t be known until today or Monday.

Mike Magnante relieved Hill with the bases loaded and one out and got Frank Catalanotto to ground into a fielder’s choice, Vaughn making a nice play to force Juan Encarnacion at the plate, and struck out Gabe Kapler after falling behind, 3-0, on the count.

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Magnante (4-1) gave up one run in 2 1/3 innings to get the win, Mike Fyhrie threw two scoreless innings, and Troy Percival, after throwing 31 pitches Friday night, got Dean Palmer to fly out with a runner on first to end the game after the Tigers rallied for two runs in the ninth.

“The beer tastes a lot better after you win,” DiSarcina said. “That much I do know.”

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