Angels on brink again, 7-1

16 years later, Anaheim is win from 1st W. Series as Lackey silences Twins

Glaus breaks scoreless tie in 7th

Up 3-1, Angels 1 of 2 teams to lose that lead in ALCS

League Championship Series

October 13, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. - With the Anaheim Angels doing the opposite of what so many people expected of them this year, it seemed appropriate that they'd use the anniversary of a colossal failure to notch another big win.

This team is tired of mourning the past, especially with so much life left in its season.

Rookie John Lackey, a Triple-A pitcher until four months ago, shut out the Minnesota Twins over seven innings, and Troy Glaus delivered a clutch single to break a scoreless tie before the Angels erupted for a 7-1 victory in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Edison International Field last night.

Brad Radke carried a two-hit shutout into the seventh, but Glaus drove in Darin Erstad and interrupted another intense pitching duel. Scott Spiezio blooped a run-scoring double down the right-field line with two outs, as the Angels began to pull away while taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.

They scored five runs in the eighth inning, two coming on a triple by slow-footed catcher Bengie Molina, while tearing into Minnesota's bullpen. Eight of Anaheim's 10 hits arrived after the sixth.

"We need to keep it going," second baseman Adam Kennedy said. "This is something we've been trying to accomplish since spring training. If we don't get it done tomorrow, we have to go back to Minnesota. And we want to avoid that."

Sixteen years ago yesterday, Boston's Dave Henderson hit a ninth-inning homer off Angels closer Donnie Moore in Game 5 of the ALCS. The Angels were a strike away from going to their first World Series, but never made it.

Lackey and Glaus pushed them closer last night. Lackey held the Twins to three hits over seven scoreless innings, walking none and striking out seven. And Glaus, whose eighth-inning homer in Game 3 also broke a tie, came through once more.

As a result, the Angels are one win away from advancing to October's final round. The Twins, who have scored seven runs in four games, are attempting to return the ALCS to the Metrodome.

"I've been pretty relaxed most of the season," said Lackey, who turns 24 later this month. "You've just got to go out there and execute pitches. Once you get on the mound, it turns into the same game we were playing at the first part of the year."

In the history of postseason play, only eight teams have failed to hold a 3-1 series lead in a best-of-seven format. Only two have lost in the ALCS, the 1985 Toronto Blue Jays and '86 Angels.

"We're well aware this series isn't nailed down until you have four wins," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "By no means is it over. By no means are we changing our approach."

Still, excitement reigned.

"I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight," Molina said. "One more win and we're in!"

Last night's pitching matchup clearly favored the Twins - at least on paper, which proved as fake as their home turf.

In his career, Radke was 11-4 with a 1.72 ERA against Anaheim. And that included the 27.00 ERA he posted in his only appearance against the Angels this season, when he aggravated a hamstring injury and lasted only two batters. He also beat the Oakland Athletics twice in the Division Series.

Radke threw 44 of his 57 pitches for strikes through six innings. He was so good, he brought out the Rally Monkey an inning early.

Stadium "rules" prohibit him from making an appearance on the JumboTron before the seventh, but he began jumping up and down after Kennedy sacrificed Molina to second base in the sixth.

It did no good. Shortstop David Eckstein lined into a double play.

With his 102 career victories, Radke held a decisive edge in experience over Lackey, who won nine games after joining the Angels in late June. And with the teams so evenly matched, the Twins needed to seize a rare advantage.

"We have a lot of confidence in John," Scioscia said. "The fact he was facing a pitcher the caliber of Radke and went pitch for pitch with him was incredible."

"He changed speeds," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Lackey. "He used his breaking ball and curve to start guys, he ran fastballs in and away. We never got locked in. The kid was very, very tough on us."

Lackey was making his second appearance in the postseason, following three scoreless innings against the New York Yankees in the Division Series. The Angels brought him to the majors as a replacement for left-hander Scott Schoeneweis, who moved to the bullpen.

He didn't exhibit any signs of nervousness. Lackey struck out Corey Koskie to end a routine first inning, spinning off the mound and running to the dugout. Koskie had struck out in six consecutive at-bats, beginning with the eighth inning of Game 2. The streak ended when he lined to Eckstein in the fourth.

The Twins had trouble getting their timing down against Lackey, who retired 12 straight before David Ortiz singled in the seventh. They swung through 92-mph fastballs up over the plate and curveballs that dropped to their ankles. Not content with shattering bats, he also took aim at their dreams.

"There's no quit in this team, and there won't be tomorrow," Gardenhire said. "I stand behind them. I always have and I always will. I think they're going to come out madder than hell tomorrow."

Playoff schedule

ALCS: Minnesota vs. Anaheim(Best of seven; *-if necessary)

TV:Chs. 45, 5

Anaheim leads series 3-1

Game 1:Minnesota, 2-1

Game 2:Anaheim, 6-3

Game 3:Anaheim, 2-1

Last night:Anaheim, 7-1

Today: Minnesota (Mays 5-9) at Anaheim (Appier 14-13), 4:30 p.m.*Tuesday:at Minn., 8:19 p.m.*Wed.:at Minn., 8:19 p.m.

NLCS: St. Louis vs. San Francisco(Best of seven; *-if necessary)

TV:Chs. 45, 5

San Francisco leads series 2-1

Game 1: San Francisco, 9-6

Game 2:San Francisco, 4-1

Yesterday: St. Louis, 5-4

Today:St. Louis (Benes 5-4) at San Francisco (Hernandez 13-16), 7:55 p.m.

Tomorrow:at S.F., 8:19 p.m.*Wed.:at St. L., 4:19 p.m.*Thursday:at St. L., 8:19 p.m. SunSpot:For more coverage, visit sunspot.net/baseball

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