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SHIELDS SHOWS WHO'S BOSS STARTER TAMES POTENT LINEUP ANGELS 5, CHICAGO WHITE SOX 1.

Byline: Gabe Lacques Staff Writer

ANAHEIM - Scot Shields turned his audition into a show-stealing performance Thursday night.

Starting just his fifth game this season, and facing a punishing Chicago White Sox lineup, Shields produced the most compelling evidence yet that he will be a serious contender for a spot in the Angels' 2004 rotation. Getting stronger as the game went on, he held the White Sox to four hits in 7 2/3 innings of the Angels' 5-1 victory.

The Angels (57-64) won consecutive games for the first time since the All-Star break and took three of four games from the White Sox (63-58), who had been the hottest team since the break.

Shields (3-3) gave up two singles in the eighth but nearly got out of it unscathed, getting a one-out groundball from pinch-hitter Paul Konerko that nearly was an inning-ending double play.

Instead it was an RBI fielder's choice. Shields was promptly removed, leaving to a standing ovation and receiving a hero's welcome in the dugout after throwing a season-high 106 pitches.

He earned the congratulations. Shields struck out five, walked none and threw 75 pitches for strikes. The outing lowered his ERA to 2.15, giving him a 3.23 mark in five starts this season.

``That was tremendous,'' Shields said of the crowd's ovation. ``That felt real good. That's what I want to do every start, every time out, the rest of my career. Hopefully, I'll give (the Angels) more incentive for next year. But I'm not looking toward next year yet.''

In three starts since replacing the released Kevin Appier, Shields has pitched a little deeper each time, from five-plus innings to seven innings to Thursday's gem, after which closer Troy Percival said Shields and his rubber arm could probably pitch a couple innings today.

``It's a rare find,'' said Percival, who got one out for his 25th save. ``He's got the Greg Maddux-style fastball that comes in on lefties and he's doing it at 92 mph. He's pretty good.''

With two potential Hall of Famers and four players with at least 21 homers in the lineup, there's nothing pleasant about facing the White Sox, who have scored nearly seven runs a game since the break.

Shields shrugged off such pressure. He shrugs all the time, even when the Angels announced he was replacing the released Kevin Appier in the rotation beginning Aug. 3. And though Appier made getting through a half-inning look like manual labor, Shields appeared on auto-pilot from the beginning Thursday.

Shields, the Angels' 38th-round draft choice in 1997, retired the first seven batters with such ease that when Joe Crede dumped a fly ball in front of left fielder Garret Anderson with one out in the third, a murmur of disappointment trickled through the crowd, suggesting some in the gathering of 35,056 thought Shields might have a no-hitter in him.

As if to prove their hopes weren't unfounded, Shields struck out Miguel Olivo next, then got Roberto Alomar to pop out to end the third.

WIth one out in the fourth, Frank Thomas ripped a double off the right- field wall. No problem. Magglio Ordonez and Carl Everett were retired on groundballs.

That started a string of 11 consecutive retired batters, and Shields' stuff - as well as his efficiency - held up.

Gabe Lacques, (626) 962-8811

gabe.lacques(at)daily news.com
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 15, 2003
Words:561
Previous Article:ANGELS NOTEBOOK: GLAUS' WOES HAVE ADDED TO SPIEZIO'S.
Next Article:SHIELDS SHOWS WHO'S BOSS STARTER TAMES POTENT LINEUP ANGELS 5, CHICAGO WHITE SOX 1.


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