Los Angeles (36-28) at Pittsburgh (25-36)

Cloudy Currently: Pittsburgh, PA
Temp: 39° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Thu Jun 17, 2004
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At this point, Bartolo Colon is stealing money from the Anaheim Angels.

Signed to a lucrative multiyear contract in the offseason, Colon has been one of the majors’ biggest free-agent busts. The Dominican right-hander will try to end a long winless streak when the Angels conclude their interleague series with the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates.

Colon, who pitched for the Chicago White Sox last year after earlier stints in Cleveland and Montreal, carried a 100-62 career record and a 3.86 ERA into the offseason. The 30-year-old right-hander signed a four-year, $51 million contract with the Angels.

Things started well for Colon with his new team as he won three of his first four starts. However, he is just 1-4 with an 8.44 ERA in nine starts since. He has allowed 32 earned runs in his last 32 innings, spanning a six-start winless streak, and opponents are hitting .300 against him this season.

“The first half last year with the White Sox is very similar to what I’m going through right now,” Colon said through an interpreter. “Every pitcher I know goes through tough situations like this. I’d like to get out of it, find myself again and get back into a rhythm.”

Colon has also allowed 19 home runs in 75 innings.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” Colon said. “I’m trying really hard, but things are just not going my way right now. I expect to be back to form, regardless. This team got me for a reason. It keeps kind of piling on, but I’ve got to stop this somehow. I know what the fans expect from me and I know what my teammates expect of me.”

Between Colon’s struggles and a rash of devastating injuries, the Angels find themselves looking up at Oakland in the AL West. They have split their last six games, and are coming off a 5-3 loss Wednesday.

One thing Colon should have going for him Thursday is his past experience against Pittsburgh. The portly right-hander is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two career starts against the Pirates, allowing just seven hits and striking out 11 in 17 innings.

The Pirates ended a nine-game losing streak with Wednesday’s victory. Daryle Ward’s three-run homer finished off Pittsburgh’s five-run fifth inning, and the Pirates avoided matching their longest losing streak in 36 years.

They have dropped 14 of 16 overall.

STANDINGS (through June 15): Angels - 2nd place, 1 1/2 GB, AL West. Pirates - 6th place, 11 GB, NL Central.

ANGELS PROBABLE STARTER: Colon (4-5, 6.24 ERA). Colon gave up six runs and nine hits, including three home runs, over six innings in a 10-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.

PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Kris Benson (4-6, 5.42 ERA). Benson has lost three straight starts, allowing 12 earned runs in 18 innings. He gave up four runs and three hits over six innings in Friday’s 6-1 loss at Oakland. The 29-year-old right-hander, who has allowed just seven homers in 73 innings this season, has never faced the Angels.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Angels - Vladimir Guerrero, .350 avg., 15 HRs, 56 RBIs and 55 runs; Chone Figgins, 18 SBs. Pirates - Jack Wilson, .341 avg.; Craig Wilson, 15 HRs, 41 RBIs and 41 runs; Rob Mackowiak, 7 SBs.

INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Angels, 3-5; Pirates, 1-7.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Angels - RHP Brendan Donnelly will be activated from the disabled list Thursday after being sidelined since a scary spring training accident fractured his nose in 20 places. To make room for Donnelly, LHP Dusty Bergman was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake, where Donnelly had a pair of rehab outings. … OF Guerrero, who spent his previous eight seasons in the NL with Montreal, is batting .333 (4-for-12) career against Benson. … RHP Colon has given up at least one homer in eight straight starts. Pirates - With their win Wednesday, the Pirates averted their first 10-game losing streak since July 6-15, 1968. They also ended a 14-game interleague losing streak against AL West clubs and a six-game home skid. … RHP Jose Mesa’s 15 consecutive saves are one short of Mike Williams’ single-season club record set in 2001 and 2002. … 1B Randall Simon is a career .750 hitter (6-for-8) against Colon.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Angels - 16-14 on the road; Pirates - 10-19 at home.

INJURIES: Angels - C Bengie Molina (wrist), 15-day DL; OF Raul Mondesi (quadriceps), 15-day DL; RHP Troy Percival (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Aaron Sele (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Greg Jones (shoulder), 60-day DL; 3B Troy Glaus (shoulder), 60-day DL. Pirates - C Humberto Cota (oblique), 15-day DL; INF Freddy Sanchez (ankle), 15-day DL; OF J.J. Davis (finger), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Boehringer (shoulder), 15-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

B. Colón NYM vs. K. Benson Ari
18-12 Record 12-12
5.01 ERA 4.31
158 K 134
71 BB 61
1.37 WHIP 1.31