Sun, Sep 04, 2005 - Page 23 News List

Angels rise after Guerrero's 300th

MAJOR LEAGUES Vladimir Guerrero became just the 11th player in US pro baseball history to hit his 300th home run before the age of 30. Guerrero's 10 predecessors include seven Hall of Famers

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE AND AP , ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA AND BOSTON

Taiwan's Kuo Hong-chih of the Dodgers pitches in relief against the Rockies at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado, Friday. The Rockies defeated the Dodgers 11-3.

PHOTO: AFP

Vladimir Guerrero stood in the batter's box, took a breath and admired his work for a moment on Friday night.

The breath might have been the relief of his lengthy slump possibly coming to an end. The admiration was for his joining an elite group of baseball's immortals.

Guerrero had just crushed a fifth-inning pitch from Seattle starter Jamie Moyer with a swift uppercut stroke and the only question was how far over Angel Stadium's center-field fence Guerrero's 300th career home run would fly in the Angels' 4-1 victory over the Mariners in front of 42,604.

Still five months shy of his 30th birthday, Guerrero became just the 11th player in baseball history to hit his 300th home run before the age of 30.

Guerrero's 10 predecessors include seven Hall of Famers, two future Hall members -- the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez and Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr. -- and two-time AL MVP Juan Gonzalez.

"It's a nice milestone," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "It's nice to get that one behind him and I look forward to the next 300 we'll hopefully see."

With the score tied at 1-1, Chone Figgins led off the fifth inning with a bloop single, moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt and stole third. Garret Anderson then followed with a sacrifice fly to score Figgins with the go-ahead run.

Guerrero added some loud, powerful insurance when he hit Moyer's 1-0 pitch for his 27th home run of the season.

Guerrero had gone a season-worst 16 games without a home run -- a span in which he went 13 for 51 (.255) at the plate.

"At times I was thinking about [the milestone] no doubt," said Guerrero through an interpreter. "But I'm going to keep swinging.

"I never had a doubt that eventually it was going to come."

The Angels' offense as a whole suffered along with their 2004 AL MVP and the Angels had sputtered to a 7-9 record over that period, but Guerrero's potential slump-breaking blast wasn't the Angels' only positive sign of power.

First baseman Darin Erstad drilled a sixth-inning offering from Moyer over the right-field wall for his fifth home run of the season and just his first since July 4.

Angels starting pitcher Paul Byrd (10-9) took care of the rest, going eight innings to earn his 10th win after seven unsuccessful tries.

"I was pressing [for a 10th win] a little too hard," Byrd said. "But it's a good time to have a nice game."

The Mariners took an early 1-0 lead off Byrd when Ichiro Suzuki led off the game with a bunt single, stole second base and scored on an RBI double from first baseman Richie Sexson.

But Byrd settled in and the Mariners never threatened again.

Byrd allowed just five hits and retired 15 of 16 batters from the third inning on, including the final nine he faced.

Francisco Rodriguez pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his 33rd save. It was the fourth consecutive game in which the Angels closer had appeared.

The Angels' victory kept them tied with the Oakland A's in the AL West Division. Oakland routed the New York Yankees, 12-0, keeping the A's and Angels tied atop the AL wild-card standings and dropping the Yankees a game back.

Orioles 7, red sox 3

John Maine and five relievers combined on a four-hitter and Baltimore beat Boston 7-3 on Friday, ending the Red Sox's streak of 14 straight home games with seven runs or more.

"We've had a couple [pitchers] step in that hadn't been doing well," Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said. "It seems like we need all of them to get through this lineup."

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