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ANGELS' LACKEY OUTDUELS MADDUX ANGELS 3, CHICAGO CUBS 2.

Byline: Gabe Lacques Staff Writer

ANAHEIM - Almost every Angel was unfamiliar with Greg Maddux before Friday night, when the four-time Cy Young Award winner made his first appearance at Angel Stadium and in seven innings sent a parade of mostly frustrated batters muttering back to the dugout.

Dusty Baker, however, had been here before, in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series, when his San Francisco Giants were stymied by a 24-year-old rookie working on three days' rest.

John Lackey and Baker were reunited Friday, with Baker now managing the Chicago Cubs. But the result was the same, and this time, Lackey was good enough to outduel a future Hall of Famer.

The struggling Angels right-hander worked seven strong innings and rookie Casey Kotchman's RBI single off Maddux was enough to produce a 3-2 victory in front of a bipartisan crowd of 43,764.

Lackey (4-7) won for the first time since May 8 because he survived a six-hit flurry in the first three innings with just two runs given up. He struck out six and retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced. He pretty much had to, because Maddux was on.

He was as good as Lackey remembered in 1997, when he had just graduated from high school and attended a game in which Maddux dueled the Florida Marlins' Kevin Brown.

``I'm a long way from what he's done,'' Lackey said of Maddux.

From a longevity standpoint, certainly. Maddux has 294 victories and will pass the 300 mark this year; Lackey is now 23-27 lifetime. But he also has that Game 7 win to his credit, and Friday night, with a full house and Baker on hand, the comparisons were tough to ignore.

``There were similarities to the way John pitched tonight and the way he pitched in Game 7 of the World Series,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ``I think he got stronger in the middle innings.''

He had little choice. Maddux, whom Scioscia calls ``a magician,'' massaged the strike zone and befuddled the Angels.

As the game wore on, the number of Angels who stood and stared in disbelief after taking a called strike three grew.

Jose Molina muttered at home-plate umpire Bill Miller while staggering back to the dugout. Adam Kennedy bent his knees, shook his head and quietly barked at Miller. Garret Anderson remained stationary after getting punched out on an 85-mph floater that to Anderson's disciplined eye surely was outside.

Somehow, it was right down the middle.

Kennedy did manage to dump a single into center field in the fifth inning, an admittedly meager blooper similar to his one previous hit off Maddux, when Kennedy was with St. Louis.

``He throws the ball places it usually doesn't travel,'' Kennedy said, ``areas it's tough to get the barrel on the ball. Sometimes, umpires concentrate on staying with it. But he's earned it. He's done enough to earn command of the strike zone.''

Or, as Scioscia put it, ``He's tough to face the first time or the 50th time.''

But the Angels (35-25) dinged him just enough to win, as he gave up just seven hits in seven innings and struck out six. Naturally, the control artist walked none.

Chone Figgins led off the game with a triple and came home on Vladimir Guerrero's sacrifice fly. With one out in the fourth, one pitch after a 2-2 pitch just missed the outside corner, Guerrero slapped a single into center field.

That spawned a two-run rally in which Jose Guillen tripled home a run on a ball center fielder Corey Patterson could have caught, and Kotchman singled him home for a 3-2 lead.

That was it. Thanks to Lackey's seven-inning gem, that was enough.

He finished with a flourish, striking out Corey Patterson and Moises Alou to end the seventh, and Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez (fourth save) ensured Lackey's first win since May 7.

Gabe Lacques, (626) 962-8811

gabe.lacques(at)sgvn.com

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 12, 2004
Words:664
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