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Once Valdes dials in, Rangers shut down Angels

4/15/2003

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Even after throwing four straight balls
to the game's first batter, Texas starter Ismael Valdes knew he was
close to the plate.

Once he got a clarification from umpire Dan Iassogna about his
strike zone, Valdes didn't miss many pitches.

The right-hander threw eight sharp innings, striking out seven
while throwing 75 of his 119 pitches for strikes, to lead the
Rangers to a 4-0 win over Anaheim on Monday night, snapping the
Angels' five-game winning streak.

"Those were pretty close pitches,'' Valdes said of the leadoff
walk to David Eckstein, who was erased on an inning-ending double
play.

"The double play helped settle him down, even though a couple
of those pitches on the walk were questionable,'' Rangers manager
Buck Showalter said.

Valdes (2-1) allowed only five singles and walked just one other
batter, coming three outs short of his sixth career shutout.

Francisco Cordero worked the ninth, preserving the Rangers'
first shutout since last June 21 against Pittsburgh, when starter
Kenny Rogers went seven innings.

The Angels were coming off a three-game sweep at Oakland and had
the longest winning streak in the majors. They scored 26 runs in
the series and beat Tim Hudson and AL Cy Young winner Barry Zito,
who had won 10 straight decisions.

Carl Everett homered twice, fulfilling his pregame prediction to
Valdes, and Hank Blalock also homered for the Rangers off Kevin
Appier.

Appier (1-2) lost his ninth straight decision in his last 12
starts against Texas since May 23, 1996. He gave up four runs on
five hits, including the three homers and a triple.

Anaheim didn't get a runner past first base until the sixth.
Eckstein singled and moved to third on Tim Salmon's two-out liner
that glanced off Alex Rodriguez's glove as the shortstop extended
his arm to try to catch the ball.

Valdes struck out Garret Anderson to get out of the jam and
pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

"When I was hitting my spots, I was hitting corners and making
the right pitches at the right time,'' Valdes said. "I'm not a
strikeout pitcher, I'm not a power pitcher. I just tried to keep
the ball down.''

While Valdes had been bothered by a blistered index finger this
season, Showalter said the pitcher came out after eight innings
because of a stiff shoulder.

After Eckstein's leadoff walk, Valdes struck out Darin Erstad
before Salmon's grounder to Rodriguez started a double play.

The Angels had runners on in the third through fifth innings,
but none got past first. Chone Figgins was picked off by Valdes
after his two-out single in the third.

"He didn't make any mistakes,'' Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia
said of Valdes, who pitched for the Angels in 2001. "He has
uncanny command, and when he combines that with velocity, he's
tough.''

Everett's second homer, his third of the season, came with one
out in the seventh to make it 3-0. Michael Young then tripled to
right past a diving Salmon, and Appier was done for the night.

Einar Diaz, the Rangers' ninth-place hitter, greeted reliever
Ben Weber with an RBI single that made it 4-0.

"Appier gave us a chance to win,'' Scioscia said. "There were
not a lot of guys they had in scoring position. These guys just got
a hold of a few pitches.''

Blalock's solo homer, his fourth of the season, came in the
first. Everett hit his first homer an inning later.

Both of Everett's homers went into the second deck of stands in
right, making him just the fifth player to do that in the same
game. It was his 15th multihomer game.

The Rangers, who have led the majors in homers the past two
seasons, top the big leagues again with 26 -- the most they've ever
had through 13 games. They have scored 40 of their 51 runs on home
runs.

Game notes
Rangers RF Juan Gonzalez is in a 2-for-20 slump, both hits
being singles, that has dropped his batting average from .313 to
.231. ... Appier is 1-8 at The Ballpark in Arlington, where he made
his only All-Star appearance, while with Kansas City in 1995. ...
Rangers CF Doug Glanville left with a tweaked right hamstring
sustained while running out a grounder in the seventh. He is
day-to-day.