Angel Offense Betrays Rapp

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Rapp sheet was incriminating, the guilty parties obvious.

No indictment could be brought against Angel pitcher Pat Rapp, who again pitched well enough to win . . . or at least get a no-decision. Blame resided elsewhere for the Angels' 6-3 loss to the Texas Rangers in front of 17,951 Thursday.

Darin Erstad, Troy Glaus, Garret Anderson and Tim Salmon--the heart of the order--did hard time at the plate. Each stranded a runner in scoring position. Erstad and Anderson were two-time losers.

The result was another wasted performance by Rapp (2-8), who gave up only two runs through six innings before the Rangers broke the game open with a four-run seventh. In his last six starts, Rapp has a 3.23 earned-run average. He has a 1-4 record in that stretch, as the Angels have averaged only two runs in those six games.

"Another two hits for me," Rapp said. "I can't control how many we score. It's kind of the bad luck of the draw."

Darren Oliver (7-2) hit the jackpot. He got to pitch against the Angels and beat them for the third time in three starts this season.

Oliver gave up one run, on a fifth-inning homer by Shawn Wooten, and four hits in seven innings. He also walked five and hit one batter, but the Angels couldn't come up with a clutch hit.

"We had some dramatic comebacks, but we still haven't gotten on a roll," Troy Percival said. "It's like we're waiting to feed off someone. We need to feed off one another."

Erstad, Glaus, Anderson and Salmon seemed to be on hunger strikes Thursday.

The Angels had two on with one out in the first inning when Glaus grounded into a force play and Anderson struck out.

In the fourth, Glaus was on second with one out. Anderson grounded out and Salmon flew out to left.

In the fifth, Erstad flew out to center, leaving runners on first and third.

In the seventh, Erstad struck out with the bases loaded and two out.

"Absolutely this gets frustrating," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "These are far too talented of players not to be producing. We just have to stick to things to get them going."

The hope for the Angels is that this will turn around, and soon.

"With the talent we have here, we're capable of winning 15 of 20 games," Percival said.

"Every team has a roll like that during the season. We just haven't hit ours yet."

There is no time like the present. Seattle hits town for a three-game series starting today. The Mariners might have won only four of their last 11 games, but they have the third lowest earned-run average in the American League.

Angel batters had a difficult enough time with Ranger pitchers, who rank last in the league in ERA.

"We just weren't having a good night tonight," Anderson said. "The whole team is not swinging the bats well."

Rapp has been this route often in the last month. Even in the one victory during his last six starts, the Angels had only two hits in beating Seattle, 2-1, Saturday.

"I have had four hits in my last two games," Rapp said. "I've been trying to keep the other team down, but it's just not been enough."

Rapp deserved better luck in the second inning. Rafael Palmeiro boomed a double off the center-field fence. One out later, Ruben Sierra singled past second baseman Adam Kennedy, Palmeiro stopping at third.

There he should have stayed, as Ricky Ledee hit a grounder to shortstop Benji Gil for what should have been an inning-ending double play.

But Gil had trouble getting the ball out of his glove and could only get the force at second, allowing Palmeiro to score.

In the third, Rapp victimized himself. With one out, he gave up back-to-back singles to Sierra and Gabe Kapler.

Rapp's wild pitch allowed them to advance and Sierra scored on Ledee's fly ball to left.

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