Angels topple Twins, 6-3, to even series

Erstad and Fullmer hit home runs in Game 2 win

Fullmer: `We're a resilient team'

Angels jump to 6-0 lead

series shifts to Anaheim

League Championship Series

October 10, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS - The hankies that were shaken so vigorously again at the Metrodome last night might be needed to dry a few eyes. Two teams, and a happy vibe, have left the building.

The Anaheim Angels changed the direction, and the emotions, of the American League Championship Series last night, getting a home run and two big breaks in the early innings and defeating the Minnesota Twins, 6-3, in Game 2 before a record crowd of 55,990.

With the series tied 1-1, the teams head to the West Coast no more certain of their destinies than before it started. The next three games will be played in Anaheim, starting tomorrow night with left-handers Jarrod Washburn and Eric Milton squaring off.

The Angels, who led 6-0 at one point, built a 4-0 lead against Twins starter and loser Rick Reed after two innings and already exceeded their hit total in Game 1. Two of their three runs in the second were unearned after catcher A.J. Pierzynski lost control of the ball while trying to make a sweeping tag at the plate.

"They opened the door a little bit and we took advantage," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's the type of baseball we play."

Darin Erstad and Brad Fullmer homered to increase Anaheim's playoff total to 11. The bullpen gave Scioscia 3 2/3 scoreless innings, with closer Troy Percival recording the last four outs for the save. He stranded two runners in the eighth by getting a called third strike on Bobby Kielty that the Twins disputed.

They didn't win the argument, either.

"We don't come into any game expecting to lose," Fullmer said, "but really our job was to come here and win one out of two on the road, and we did that. We're a resilient team. Nobody panics."

Percival hasn't allowed a run against the Twins in 36 1/3 career innings. He struck out three of the four batters he faced last night, including Jacque Jones to end the game.

"They have a lot of good hitters. They're tough to get," Percival said. "A lot of those numbers are from 1995 to 1999. This team, if you don't make quality pitches, they'll get you."

After playing so crisply the previous night, the Twins botched a rundown and saw one of their own runners picked off first. They never led and never allowed their fans to sustain a fevered pitch and disrupt the Angels, who are attempting to reach the World Series as a wild card.

Their chances of getting there will improve if right fielder Tim Salmon stays healthy. Salmon left the game in the third inning with a tight right hamstring, but he'll have a day to rest before the series resumes. He received a cortisone injection from team physician Dr. Lewis Yocum and is expected to play tomorrow.

The Angels had to feel fortunate to take Game 2 with Salmon injured and Ramon Ortiz pitching. Their least effective starter in the AL Division Series, Ortiz carried a shutout into the sixth before permitting three runs.

A two-run single by Doug Mientkiewicz with one out sliced Anaheim's lead to 6-3 and drove Ortiz, who allowed 10 hits but got the win, from the game.

Reed faced the Angels once during the regular season, on May 24 at Edison International Field, where he limited them to one run and four hits while throwing his 11th career complete game. This wasn't anything new for Reed, who was 4-1 with a 2.12 ERA lifetime against the Angels before last night.

Held to an unearned run by Game 1 starter Joe Mays, the Angels went ahead 1-0 last night when Erstad drilled a 409-foot homer in the first inning. Reed got two strikes on Erstad, who sent the next pitch above the upper left corner of the baggie in right-center field.

The Angels used four hits and Pierzynski's error to expand their lead in the second. Troy Glaus, who struck out looking to end Game 1 and strand the tying run, singled to right field and took third on a double by Brad Fullmer. Scott Spiezio followed with a fly ball that looked routine until it fell inside the right-field line for a run-scoring double.

It appeared the Twins would escape with only one run allowed after Bengie Molina flied out and Fullmer was nailed at the plate on Adam Kennedy's grounder to Reed. But the Angels have a knack for creating opportunities and forcing opponents into mistakes. They also can get pretty lucky.

Kennedy broke too soon for second, with Reed throwing behind him, but Mientkiewicz gave up pursuit and fired home as Spiezio attempted to score. Spiezio went in standing, and his left knee knocked the ball from Pierzynski's mitt. David Eckstein lined a single into right field, and the Angels led 4-0.

"We did everything right. We just didn't get the guy at home plate," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I don't know what we could have done more. Doug just threw to the first-base side of home plate instead of the third-base side, and it was a tough play for A.J."

Fullmer tacked on two more in the sixth with a homer after Glaus tripled, and with the crowd booing, Gardenhire went to his bullpen.

Are the Angels back in business?

"I never felt we were out of business," Spiezio said.

ALCS schedule

Minnesota vs. Anaheim

(Best of seven; *-if necessary)

TV:Chs. 45, 5

Series tied 1-1

Game 1:Minnesota, 2-1

Last night:Anaheim, 6-3

Tomorrow:at Ana., 8:19 p.m.

Saturday:at Ana., 7:50 p.m.

Sunday:at Ana., 4:50 p.m.

*Tuesday:at Minn., 8:20 p.m.

*Wed.:at Minn., 8:20 p.m.

SunSpot:For more coverage, visit sunspot.net/baseball

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