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IT'S ROCCO AND ROLL ANGELS CAN'T OVERCOME D-RAYS' BALDELLI, GONZALEZ TAMPA BAY 3, ANGELS 1.

Byline: Joe Haakenson Staff Writer

ANAHEIM - Rocco and Jeremi. Jeremi and Rocco. Either way you look at it, the Angels had to wonder what hit them Friday night.

The names Jeremi Gonzalez and Rocco Baldelli hardly ring a bell with many baseball fans, but they made believers of 37,902 at Edison Field as they led the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to a 3-1 victory over the Angels.

Gonzalez earned his first major-league victory in nearly five years (June 28, 1998, with the Cubs) after giving up one run and two hits in six innings. It had been five years because it had been that long since he pitched in the majors before getting called up from Triple-A last week.

Baldelli, a 21-year-old rookie center fielder, had a career-best four hits, including a home run. He has 65 hits this season, the most by a rookie this early in the season in major-league history with the exception of Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki, who had 76 through May 23 in 2001.

All in all, it was a bad night for the Angels, who found out earlier in the day that closer Troy Percival would have to go on the disabled list with a strained gluteus muscle and degenerative changes in his right hip joint.

Of course, the Angels had no need for Percival on Friday because there was no ninth-inning lead to save. The Angels have now lost three of four on the homestand, a homestand during which they were expected to make a move in the standings, playing sub-.500 teams like the Baltimore Orioles and Devil Rays.

Instead, they've been outplayed and have seen their own record (22-24) fall under .500 as well.

Baldelli got the scoring started, hitting his third home run of the season in the third inning, jumping on a fastball from Angels starter Jarrod Washburn (4-5) and giving the Devil Rays a 1-0 lead.

Adam Kennedy (CSUN) tied it for the Angels with his second homer of the year in the bottom of the third, but the Devil Rays went ahead again in the top of the fourth. Ben Grieve led off with a double and scored two outs later on a single by Carl Crawford.

Washburn seemed to be in trouble all night long. He gave up two hits in each of the first four innings but the Devil Rays were able to score only two runs.

The Angels had trouble putting together many scoring threats against Gonzalez, despite his trouble throwing strikes. In six innings, Gonzalez walked five batters, including two in the second inning. But none of the batters who walked were able to score.

The game remained 2-1 until the eighth, when Jared Sandberg drove home Grieve with a triple, increasing Tampa Bay's lead to 3-1.

Washburn pitched well enough to win, but didn't. He lasted 7 2/3 innings, the fifth time in his past six starts he's pitched at least seven innings. He allowed three runs and 11 hits, making 117 pitches.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

The Angels' Tim Salmon slams into the wall trying to catch Jared Sandberg's drive that became a double for Tampa Bay.

Chris Carlson/Associated Press
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 24, 2003
Words:531
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