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ANGELS FINALLY FIGURE OUT ZITO NINE TWO-OUT RUNS AID ROAD WIN ANGELS 12, OAKLAND 2.

Byline: Gabe Lacques Staff Writer

OAKLAND - Facing the Angels is a proposition Barry Zito typically relishes. The Oakland Athletics left-hander has 10 wins against them in his five major-league seasons, second-most of any opponent, and he entered Friday's game coming off a six-inning, one-run performance just five days earlier.

But consider the Angels a well-adjusted bunch of hitters.

Undaunted by their previous flailings against Zito's circus curveball, they gave him a career-worst beating Friday, rolling up nine runs against him to pick up a gassed Jarrod Washburn and record a 12-2 victory at Network Associates Coliseum.

Minus the injured Garret Anderson and Tim Salmon, the Angels proved a deep and resilient bunch Friday. All nine runs off Zito came with two outs, and 45 of their 91 runs scored this season have come in that situation.

What's more, the hitters Zito so baffled in a 7-1 victory Sunday in Anaheim looked like they knew what was coming Friday.

Darin Erstad, Vladimir Guerrero, Troy Glaus and Jose Guillen, who combined for two harmless singles in 15 at-bats Sunday, feasted on Zito's curveball Friday, on a night it hung tantalizingly over the heart of the plate.

Glaus got it started with a monstrous two-run home run to left field in the first inning, immediately after Guerrero's double to the wall in center field on another hanging curve.

Erstad, who entered Friday hitting .232, enjoyed a four-hit evening that included a two-out, two-run double that kick-started a four-run uprising in the second for a 6-0 lead.

Guerrero, mired in a 3-for-25 slump that had his manager suggesting he was trying to do too much, made do Friday with two doubles, a single and two RBI in his first three at-bats.

And Guillen, held without a homer as he struggles to get full extension with a pained left hand and wrist, finally got a pitch he could turn on. Zito put a curveball on a tee for him in the fourth inning and he roped the offering from his former teammate into the left-field seats for a three-run homer and 9-0 lead.

Zito (2-2) would be gone after four innings, and while his counterpart's pitching line looked much cleaner, Washburn had issues of his own.

Never the pitch-efficient sort anyway, Washburn tends to run high pitch counts against the disciplined Oakland hitters. It took one batter to establish that pattern Friday.

Leadoff hitter Mark Kotsay worked Washburn for a 13-pitch walk in the bottom of the first, to the delight of the gathering of 23,507. But Washburn needed just six pitches to record three outs, coaxing a comebacker from Eric Chavez for an inning-ending double play.

This game of cat-and-mouse continued for five innings, with Washburn (3-1) benefiting from timely defensive help. In the third, Washburn issued three walks and a single but got away with no damage thanks to two gems by second baseman Adam Kennedy.

First, Kennedy speared a line drive off the bat of Kotsay with two runners on, then flipped the ball to David Eckstein for a double play.

After two Washburn walks loaded the bases, Jermaine Dye ripped a line drive to Kennedy's left. If it gets in the gap, the game probably turns into a 6-3 affair. But Kennedy made a diving catch, spearing the ball in the webbing of his glove for the third out.

Washburn needed 100 pitches to complete five innings, but his final offering induced a double-play ball off the bat of Eric Karros to complete his work.

Kevin Gregg came on to pitch four scoreless innings of mop-up relief for his first career save.

Gabe Lacques, (626) 962-8811

gabe.lacques(at)sgvn.com

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 24, 2004
Words:617
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Next Article:LAKERS NOTEBOOK: FINALLY, BRYANT OPENS UP.


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