Late thunder: Salmon's homer in 8th wins it

Veteran's second blast of night caps 11-10 slugfest, pulls Angels even at 1-1

World Series

October 21, 2002|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Anaheim Angels tried to do it the easy way last night, but it just isn't their nature.

They busted out to a quick five-run lead in the second game of the 98th World Series and still had to manufacture some late-inning magic to score an 11-10 victory over the San Francisco Giants that evened the best-of-seven Fall Classic at a game apiece.

Outfielder Tim Salmon hit a tie-breaking two-run home run to left field off reliever Felix Rodriguez in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Angels their first-ever World Series victory and hand rookie relief sensation Francisco Rodriguez his fifth win of the postseason.

It was Salmon's second home run of the game and it couldn't have come at a better time for the Angels, who were in danger of heading to San Francisco in an almost impossible situation. Salmon reached base all five times in an offensive free-for-all that featured 28 hits and evoked memories of the night - exactly nine years ago - that the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies combined for 29 runs in Game 4 of the 1993 World Series.

"I knew I got it," Salmon said. "I knew the situation. You had a feeling it was going to come down to something like that the way both teams were playing. That was something I have dreamed about doing for a long time ... watching from the couch. It's unbelievable."

Barry Bonds answered in the top of the ninth with a mammoth two-out home run into the right-field bleachers, but Angels closer Troy Percival finished off Benito Santiago to seal the victory and record his fifth save of the postseason.

"You could tell it was going to be an offensive night the way the ball was carrying and the way both teams were hitting," Giants manager Dusty Baker said. "You could tell it was going to come down to the last at-bat. That's one of the best games I've ever been involved in. We just came up on the wrong end."

The Giants, who apparently have gotten tired of hearing so much talk about the Angels and their vaunted resilience, battled back with four runs in the second inning and four runs in the fifth to take a two-run lead, only to succumb to the same determination that helped the Angels bounce back from Game 1 losses in both the Division Series and the American League Championship Series.

The Giants can take comfort in the fact that they accomplished their mission in the first Anaheim segment of the Series, splitting the first two games to wrest away home-field advantage, but they clearly missed an opportunity to take control of this wild-card showdown.

Both bullpens were forced to work overtime when Giants starter Russ Ortiz and Angels starter Kevin Appier fell apart in the early innings. The relief wasn't as pretty as the night before - when neither bullpen surrendered a hit - but the Angels benefited from another in a series of outstanding postseason performances from their 20-year-old prodigy, who tied Randy Johnson's record set last year for wins in a single postseason.

It shouldn't have been that tough. They came out swinging in the first inning to score five times off Ortiz, showing again their ability to dust themselves off after a postseason knockdown and come back with fire in their eyes.

The first four hitters to face Ortiz hit safely, and he would go on to give up six hits before he got the second out of the inning. Center fielder Darin Erstad, who had struggled with men on base the night before, lined a double to right-center to bring home the first run and the Angels got RBI singles from Garret Anderson, Brad Fullmer and Scott Spiezio.

Spiezio and Fullmer teamed up to bring home the fifth run of the inning with a double steal, Spiezio coaxing catcher Santiago into an erratic throw to second and Fullmer sprinting home from third without a throw.

It was the first steal of home in the World Series since Tim McCarver - who was broadcasting last night's game for Fox - did it for the St. Louis Cardinals against the New York Yankees in 1964.

If the Angels smelled blowout, however, somebody forgot to tell Appier, who followed a perfect first inning with a very imperfect performance in the second to usher the Giants right back into the game.

Appier walked Bonds on a full-count pitch to lead off the inning, then allowed a one-out single to Game 1 hero J.T. Snow. Reggie Sanders followed with a blast to left that took a huge chunk out of the Angels' big early lead. The three-run shot was his second of the Series and proved rather conclusively that he has emerged from the postseason slump that prompted Baker to bench him in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.

The Giants weren't quite done. David Bell came up behind Sanders and jerked a full-count pitch over the center-field fence to make it a one-run ballgame.

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