Despite Close Calls, Ortiz's Success Continues

Times Staff Writer

Ramon Ortiz, the excitable pitcher who often has to be soothed by catcher Bengie Molina or pitching coach Bud Black during dicey situations, has emerged as the Angels' most steady starter this season.

The right-hander has won eight of his last 10 decisions and is on pace to set a career high in victories because of his improved ability to hunker down in crucial situations.

He escaped several jams Tuesday during the Angels' 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field, including a two-on, one-out mess in the fifth inning with the score tied.

"He made the pitches to get out of those jams," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Our starting pitching has picked up the last month, and Ramon's been a big part of that. For him to go seven innings and pitch as effective as that is important."

Ortiz (12-7) needs only four more victories to surpass his career high of 15 last year.

The Angels are pleased with the continued progress exhibited by the 29-year-old from the Dominican Republic, whose performance Tuesday lowered his earned-run average to a season-best 4.09. Ortiz allowed three hits and one unearned run, struck out six and walked three.

"Ramon's outing was big for us," shortstop David Eckstein said. "Hopefully, it sends us in the right direction."


Garret Anderson and Scioscia engaged in a heated debate with home plate umpire Eric Cooper in the sixth inning after Anderson was hit by a pitch but was not awarded first base. Cooper ruled that he had swung at Joe Kennedy's pitch.

"I didn't think Garret swung," Scioscia said.

Neither did Anderson, who ended up striking out.


Pitching prospect Ervin Santana, promoted to double-A Arkansas last week after outdueling Randy Johnson when the Arizona Diamondback left-hander was on a rehabilitation outing, allowed three runs -- two earned -- in five innings Monday in his debut. Santana gave up five hits, struck out four and walked two while recording a no-decision during Arkansas' 4-3 victory over Round Rock.... Brendan Donnelly lowered his major league-low ERA to 0.36 Tuesday by pitching a scoreless eighth inning.... Third baseman Troy Glaus sat out the game with shoulder stiffness after landing awkwardly Monday while attempting to field a ball. Glaus said he did not know whether he could return to the lineup today when the Angels play at Texas.


Opponent -- Texas Rangers, two games.

Site -- The Ballpark at Arlington.

TV -- Channel 9, Thursday.

Radio -- KSPN (710), KWKU (1220).

Records -- Angels 50-48, Rangers 40-59.

Record vs. Rangers -- 5-6.

Tonight, 5 -- Jarrod Washburn (8-9, 4.37) vs. Ismael Valdes (7-7, 5.85).

Thursday, 5 p.m. -- Kevin Appier (6-6, 5.44) vs. Joaquin Benoit (5-4, 5.25).

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