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Updated: Saturday, May 31, 2003 10:08 PM EDT
MLB RECAP
Anaheim Angels
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
6 10 0
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
1 8 1
W Appier (4-2)
L Kennedy (3-5)
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ANAHEIM 6, TAMPA BAY 1
 

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Ticker) -- Kevin Appier simply owns the Tampa Bay Devil Rays .

Appier narrowly missed his 13th career shutout as the Anaheim Angels beat the Devil Rays , 6-1, for their eighth victory in their last nine meetings at Tropicana Field.

The veteran righthander improved to 8-0 with a 1.71 ERA in eight career games against the Devil Rays . He was removed in favor of Francisco Rodriguez after relinquishing a two-out RBI double to Travis Lee in the bottom of the ninth.

"I certainly don't have any type of philosophy against Tampa Bay," Appier said. "They have good hitters. Fortunately, it worked out the way it has."

"The only explanation I have is that he outthinks us," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "He knows how to pitch, but to have that kind of domination and not striking out that many hitters, he must know what we're thinking when we go up to home plate."

Appier (4-2), who made 110 pitches, yielded eight hits and one walk while striking out four batters. He fell one out shy of his 35th complete game and first since a 2-0 win over Montreal while pitching for the New York Mets on September 25, 2001.

"I think that was the best game that I have seen him maintain his stuff," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Once he got to 111 pitches the ball was getting up a bit but he did finish strong."

"I've been able to throw a higher amount of quality pitches," said Appier, who was on the disabled list from April 20-May 7 with a strained right flexor muscle. "It could have been slightly better tonight, but not much more. It helps to be healthy."

Making his first career outfield start, Chone Figgins scored three times and went 2-for-4 with an RBI single for the Angels, who improved to 5-6 in a 12-game stretch against lowly Tampa Bay and Baltimore.

"This was my first time playing outfield," Figgins said. "My teammates believed in me. They told me to go out and play and just have fun. I've never played left field before but I've been working hard at it. I didn't lose any balls, it wasn't that tough here in the dome."

Figgins gave Anaheim the lead for good in the top of the first, when he rapped a one-out triple against Joe Kennedy and scored on Tim Salmon 's sacrifice fly.

"You can't do much more than what Figgy did tonight," said Piniella of Figgins, who stole two bases. "The triple was big to get it started. Having him on base gives the other team a challenge. We just put him on his own to steal."

Kennedy (3-5) left the game after the first inning due to stiffness in his left shoulder.

"He came in after the first and said he felt tenderness, soreness in the shoulder area," Piniella said. "We did the right thing by getting hime out of the ballgame. ... Actually, I thought the first inning he threw the ball as well or better than in any of his other starts. Good velocity, good life. The best velocity he's had all year."

Nick Bierbrodt came on to pitch five innings - the most by a Tampa Bay reliever this season - and gave up four runs - three earned - and five hits.

Anaheim scored in each of the first four frames, taking a 2-0 lead on Benji Gil 's sacrifice fly in the second inning, adding a run on Garret Anderson 's RBI double in the third and two in the fourth on a run-scoring single by Figgins and a wild pitch by Bierbrodt.

Gil made it 6-0 with an RBI fielder's choice in the seventh against Mike Venafro .

"It wasn't one of our better games," said Piniella. "It's a shame, too, because we had a decent crowd."

The game attracted just 14,546 fans.


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