Don Sutton overcame the goal tonight that very nearly overcame him.
In probably his strongest performances of the season, Sutton allowed just three hits en route to his 300th career victory in a 5-1 triumph over the Texas Rangers before 37,044 at Anaheim Stadium.
Sutton ended the game by striking out Gary Ward on a foul tip. As the crowd responded with a standing ovation, Sutton was mobbed by his teammates, newsmen and security officials.
"I can't think of a better scenario," he said. "This makes so much of the sacrifice worthwhile."
Sutton moved into a tie with Early Wynn and Lefty Grove for 16th place on the all-time win list. He is fourth among active pitchers, trailing Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver and Phil Niekro. He became the sixth major-leaguer to achieve 300 wins and 3,000 strikeouts.
"All along the way, there have been people willing to invest in my life," said Sutton, citing his family, former Dodgers Manager Walt Alston and pitching coach Red Adams. "I couldn't have done it without these people. I used to think I could be an island in this world, but I was wrong."
Sutton entered the season needing five wins to reach 300. But he earned only four victories in his first 12 starts and his earned run average swelled to 5.56. Although the Angels won in his first attempt at 300 last Saturday, Sutton allowed five runs and did not get the decision.
"There were times when I thought 300 was out of reach," Sutton said. "I had to ask myself several times whether it was possible and whether it was worth it."
But the 41-year-old right-hander allowed Texas just one hit through the first 6 2/3 innings tonight and had excellent control. He struck out three and did not walk a batter in recording his second complete game of the season.
His only mistake was on a 2-1 pitch to Pete Incaviglia in the seventh. Incaviglia drove the ball over the wall in straightaway center for his 12th home run of the year. The only other hits he allowed were singles by Ruben Sierra in the second and eighth innings.
Pitching on three days' rest for the first time this year, Sutton was nearly flawless and needed only 85 pitches to complete the masterpiece, facing 29 batters.
The milestone victory came exactly 20 years and two months after his first big league triumph -- a victory in the Houston Astrodome when he was a rookie with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Angels gave Sutton a healthy lead right away, scoring three runs off rookie Jose Guzman in the first inning.
Guzman, who won his last two starts, walked Gary Pettis to begin the game and allowed him to reach third on Wally Joyner's single to left. Pettis then scored California's first run when Brian Downing hit into a fielder's choice, forcing Joyner at second.
Reggie Jackson followed with a single to center, the seventh straight time he has reached base safely, and Ruppert Jones walked to load the bases. After Doug DeCinces flied out meekly to left, Rob Wilfong scored Downing and Jackson with a single up the middle for a 3-0 lead.
Sutton retired 18 of the first 19 batters he faced, allowing only a weak single by Sierra that hopped over Wilfong's glove at second with two outs in the second. Displaying sharp control and throwing remarkably few pitches -- six in the first inning -- Sutton set down 12 of those hitters on fly balls.
He also benefited from an outstanding catch by Downing in left field with two outs in the fourth. Incaviglia's sinking line drive appeared headed for the left-center field gap, but Downing dived to spear the ball.
Sutton appeared to gain momentum in the fifth inning. After retiring Larry Parrish on a first-pitch fly out, he struck out Sierra and got Toby Harrah on a ground out.
Sutton needed just seven pitches to get out of the sixth. He closed out the inning by fielding Oddibe McDowell's bunt and throwing out the 23-year-old speedster.
California increased its lead to 4-0 in the fifth inning on Jones' sixth home run of the year. Jones, seven of whose last eight hits have been for extra bases, drove a 1-1 pitch from Guzman (6-7) into the bleachers in left for his 100th homer in the American League. Downing's eighth homer, with two out in the seventh, produced a five-run lead.
The Rangers lost their fifth straight and their lead in the AL West was shaved to a half-game over the Angels.
A's 1, Royals 0: Dave Kingman's 15th home run this season allowed Curt Young to win a four-hitter in Oakland. Kingman hit a 2-2 pitch from Kansas City's Bret Saberhagen (4-7) over the left field wall in the second inning.
Brewers 3, Blue Jays 1: Rookie Mike Felder drove in two runs with his first major-league home run in helping Ted Higuera win an eight-hitter in Milwaukee. Higuera (9-5) struck out eight to give him 98 this season, second best in the AL.
Indians 5, Mariners 1: Ken Schrom allowed just three hits in seven innings and Brett Butler doubled, tripled and scored twice as Cleveland, playing at home, ended Seattle's four-game winning streak.
Twins 10, White Sox 9: Steve Lombardozzi's triple down the left-field line with none out in the 10th inning scored Kirby Puckett from first base and won the game in Minneapolis. The Twins have won four straight and the White Sox have lost five straight.