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Published: Wednesday, 4/30/2003

Tribe drops 7th straight as Ortiz throws 7-hitter

BY RON MUSSELMAN
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Indians aren't as pitiful as the Detroit Tigers, but they're not far behind. At least not in the American League Central Division standings.

Ramon Or-tiz pitched a complete- game seven-hitter as the defending World Series champion An-aheim Angels embarrassed the Indians 10-1 last night before 16,667 fans at Jacobs Field.

Cleveland (7-19) suffered its seventh consecutive loss and has the second-worst record in baseball, behind only Detroit (3-21). The Indians are fourth in the AL Central; the Tigers are fifth.

“It's nobody's fault but our own,” Cleveland catcher Josh Bard said. “We've got to start doing a better job. We can't keep going out there and playing like we did tonight. That was bad.

“You can say you're trying, but we've got to start producing more. We're professionals and we're getting paid a lot of money for this. You've got to go out and do something.”

Cleveland has lost 11 of its last 13 games and is off to its worst start in 34 years. The last time the Indians started this poorly so early in a season was 1969, when they began 4-21 under Alvin Dark en route to a 62-99 record and last-place finish.

Ortiz (4-2) walked two last night and didn't record a strikeout against the league's second-worst-hitting team. He improved to 3-0 in his career against the Tribe, with all three wins coming at Jacobs Field.

“We didn't do a very good job of competing against [Oritz],” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. “He was pretty efficient. He kept the ball down all night and kept pounding the [strike] zone.”

Cleveland's anemic offense, which was outscored 31-8 by the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics in the last two series, has scored just 89 runs in 26 games and its .243 team batting average ranks ahead of only the hapless Tigers.

“I think we have multiple issues offensively,” Wedge said. “At this point, we're getting a little anxious and trying to make up for it with one swing.”

The Angels, who had the second-highest team batting average in the AL at .286 entering last night's game, got three RBIs each from Garret Anderson and Jeff DaVanon in defeating Cleveland starter Ricardo Rodriguez (2-2).

Anderson hit a two-run homer off Rodriguez in the third.

“Ricardo didn't have his best stuff,” Wedge said. “He was behind in the count a lot.”

Rodriguez allowed eight hits and four earned runs in five innings while walking one and striking out two. After allowing three earned runs in his first three starts, the 24-year-old right-hander has given up 11 earned runs over his last three outings.

Overall, Anaheim managed 13 hits off Rodriguez and two Cleveland relievers.

“It was a bad night for me and my teammates,” Rodriguez said. “I just couldn't get my pitches to get where I wanted them to go. I kept getting the ball over the middle and they were sitting on it and hitting it.”

The Angels jumped on top 2-0 with a pair of unearned runs in the second against Rodriguez. Brad Fullmer, who had three hits, opened with a double off the wall and scored on Bengie Molina's infield groundout. Cleveland third baseman Casey Blake had a chance to cut Fullmer down at home, but his throw bounced off Fullmer's shoulder.

DaVanon's sacrifice plated Troy Glaus with the other run.

The Indians, who last lost seven in a row in 1991, got a solo homer from Ellis Burks in the fourth. The Indians, though, had only two runners make it as far as third base.

“It's embarrassing,” Bard said. “And frustrating.”

ODDS & ENDS: Cleveland's Danys Baez had a 0.00 ERA in his first seven outings. In his last four, his ERA is 21.60. He has two blown saves and two losses during that stretch. “I'm not really sure what Danys' problem is,” general manager Mark Shapiro said. “In spring training, he was fine. At the end of last year, when he was our closer, he was fine. So I have to believe this is all part of the education of learning how to be a closer. Danys is very strong mentally and I'm sure he'll get through this.” ... Anaheim's Tim Salmon extended his major-league-leading hitting streak to a career-high 17 games with a single to center in the first inning. ... Brian Anderson, who missed his last start with a pulled hamstring, will face the Angels' Jarrod Washburn tonight.



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