08/20/2003 11:00 PM ET
Lackey suffers familiar feeling
Anaheim swept out of Chicago with 5-3 loss
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- In a season full of frustration for the Angels and their young right-hander John Lackey, the result of his latest outing couldn't have come as much of a surprise.
Lackey had been as inconsistent as he had been unlucky during his unspectacular sophomore campaign, and Wednesday night's start wasn't much different.
Lackey kept the Angels in the game but once again was stung by the long ball, and the Angels lost, 5-3, before 17,879 in U.S. Cellular Field.
Anaheim lost its third straight game to get swept out of Chicago after winning six of seven on a homestand. The Angels, who fell to 60-67 on the year, are now tied for last place in the American League West Division with the Texas Rangers, who have won eight consecutive games.
Since division play began in 1969, the only team to have won a World Series one year and finished in last place in its division the following year is the Florida Marlins, who won it all in 1997, then had a fire sale of talent before the following campaign.
When asked if the fact that his team could end up in the cellar bothered him, Tim Salmon said, "I guess it does.
"You don't want to finish at the bottom. You never do. But we've got five, six weeks left. We'll get it going. That's our race -- our playoff race, I guess."
Unlike the Marlins, the Angels brought practically their entire roster back for a run at the title, but crippling injuries to first-stringers Troy Glaus, Darin Erstad, Brad Fullmer and David Eckstein have taken their toll.
They have called up 12 players from Triple-A Salt Lake since the beginning of the season, and six of them played in Wednesday night's game.
"It's always frustrating to lose," Salmon said. "But it's one thing to lose when you're throwing our your lineup every night. I firmly believe we would be a much better team if we were healthy. From that standpoint, you can't get too frustrated."
The starting pitching has been a source of frustration, though, and Lackey is partially responsible.
After a 9-4 record and a 3.66 ERA last year, plus his playoff heroics, he entered Wednesday night's game with an 8-11 mark and a 5.26 ERA.
He went into Wednesday tied for eighth in the American League with 22 home runs allowed and upped that total to 24 after 5 2/3 innings of eight-hit, four-run ball, although only three of the runs were earned.
"Outside of a couple pitches, I thought he threw a terrific game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Lackey. "John's had some bumps in the road, but he's becoming more consistent. Tonight, we didn't give him much margin for error.
Lackey agreed, saying he felt that for the most part, he did his job.
"Tonight, we could have won this ballgame," Lackey said. "I'm definitely gonna take some of it, but not all of it."
The Angels took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Angels first baseman Adam Riggs drove an Esteban Loaiza offering deep into the left-field bleachers for his second Major League home run and second in as many nights.
But Lackey immediately gave up that advantage in the bottom of that frame.
With one out, Brian Daubach drew a walk before Jose Valentin homered to right field to give Chicago a 2-1 lead.
The Angels had chances to get to Loaiza early but couldn't.
In the first, Salmon and Scott Spiezio both failed to drive in a run with runners on first and second.
In the third, Chone Figgins lead off with a triple and was stranded on third base when Loaiza punched out Jeff DaVanon, Garret Anderson and Salmon in order.
Chicago's lead grew to 3-1 in the second inning when Magglio Ordoñez homered to left center, and it increased to 4-1 in the fifth when Ordoñez hit a one-out single, stole second, reached third on a passed ball before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Carl Everett.
The Angels made it interesting in the top of the seventh.
Their most recent callup from the minor leagues, utility man Trent Durrington, led off the inning as a pinch-hitter and singled in his first at-bat in the Major Leagues since 2000.
Durrington moved to second on a bloop hit by Alfredo Amezaga, then scored when Figgins singled to center for his fourth hit of the night, a career high.
DaVanon drew a walk that loaded the bases and the White Sox brought in left-handed reliever Damaso Marte, who surrendered a sacrifice fly to Anderson that cut Chicago's lead to 4-3.
It was the Angels' left fielder's 100th RBI of the year and his fourth consecutive season over the century mark in that category.
"It's an indication of how consistent this guy is," Scioscia said. "Every year, he's extremely productive. I think nationwide media and fans are starting to realize just how good Garret is."
But with runners on first and second and one out, Marte got Salmon to fly out to center, pushing Figgins to third, and Spiezio stranded another runner in scoring position by striking out looking to end the frame.
That was as close as the Angels would come.
Facing Greg Jones in the seventh inning, Everett blasted a solo homer into the right-field bleachers that made it 5-3, and Marte finished Anaheim off with a perfect ninth inning.
"We just have to play solid games and we haven't been doing it," Spiezio said.
"We've come close, but we haven't done it consistently enough."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.