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


Sun, Sep 04, 2005 - Page 23

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."

American League East-leading Boston lost for just the second time in 21 home games and failed to score seven runs at Fenway Park for the first time since Aug. 2.

"It's definitely very surprising," Boston's Johnny Damon said. "We expect to get hits. We expect to score a lot of runs."

The Red Sox, who had won five straight, got a single by Manny Ramirez and a two-run double by Jason Varitek in the first inning, then didn't get another hit until Kevin Millar singled leading off the ninth.

Baltimore went ahead 3-2 in the second on an RBI single by Chris Gomez and a two-run double by Luis Matos. Alejandro Freire hit his first major league homer for the Orioles, who won their third straight after a 1-10 stretch.

Maine (2-1) allowed two earned runs in five innings.

Lenny DiNardo (0-1), recalled from Triple-A on Friday, started in place of David Wells, serving a six-game suspension stemming for a July 2 argument with umpires. DiNardo allowed one earned run and seven hits in six innings.

White Sox 9, Tigers 1

At Chicago, Carl Everett and Juan Uribe hit three-run homers, and Freddy Garcia won for the first time since July 31 to lead Chicago past Detroit.

The White Sox took a 4-0 lead in the second, when A.J. Pierzynski had a run-scoring single and Uribe hit his 10th homer. Chicago made it 8-1 in the fourth when Pablo Ozuna hit an RBI single and Everett homered for the second straight game.

Garcia (12-7) allowed one run and two hits in seven innings with seven strikeouts. David Sanders, making his first appearance in the major leagues since July 2003, and Bobby Jenks finished the three-hitter.

Sean Douglass (5-3) gave up eight runs and eight hits in 3 2-3 innings for Detroit, which has lost seven of nine.

Indians 6, Twins 1

At Minneapolis, C.C. Sabathia won his sixth straight start for Cleveland by scattering three hits over 7 1-3 innings in a win over Minnesota.

Sabathia (12-9) didn't allow a hit until the sixth, when he surrendered two-out singles to Jason Bartlett and Shannon Stewart. Sabathia struck out seven and walked one.

Ronnie Belliard had three hits, Grady Sizemore homered and drove in two runs and Ben Broussard homered and drove in three runs for Cleveland, which won for the 11th time in 14 games.

Brad Radke (8-11) was stung again by a lack of support, though he gave up nine hits and four runs -- three earned -- in seven innings. The Twins have scored 13 runs in Radke's 11 losses.

Athletics 12, Yankees 0

At Oakland, California, Scott Hatteberg hit a three-run homer, and Bobby Kielty and Jay Payton also connected for Oakland.

The Athletics chased Al Leiter (4-4) in the first inning of his first loss since Aug. 2. The A's sent 19 batters to the plate and scored 10 runs in the first two innings.

The only other time New York was shut out this year was April 29 by Toronto's Roy Halladay. Oakland has an AL-best 11 shutouts.

Jason Kendall drove in two runs and Mark Ellis had an RBI triple for the A's, who beat New York for just the second time in seven meetings this season. Leiter got only two outs in the shortest start of his career not caused by injury.

Dan Haren (12-10) labored through six innings for the A's, who are tied with Los Angeles atop the AL West and are one game ahead of the Yankees and Cleveland in the wild-card race.

Dontrelle Willis set a Florida record for wins in a season, earning his 19th on Friday in a 4-2 win over New York.

Willis went 2-for-4 at the plate, including a double in the Marlins' two-run sixth. He scored their final run, racing home from third on a grounder and beating the throw with a headfirst slide.

"He's the complete package," manager Jack McKeon said. "He plays the game the way it's supposed to be played. There's a lot of kid in him."

Willis (19-8) broke the franchise mark for victories that he shared with Carl Pavano, who went 18-8 last year. The left-hander won his fourth consecutive start and tied St. Louis' Chris Carpenter for the major league lead in wins.

David Wright's RBI single chased Willis with one out in the ninth, but Todd Jones finished for his 33rd save.

Willis' gem came at the start of a key series between National League wild-card contenders. Florida began the night 11/2 games behind wild-card leader Philadelphia, while New York was 2 1/2 games back.

Victor Zambrano (7-11) allowed 12 hits and four runs in five-plus innings for the Mets.

Cubs 7, Pirates 3

At Pittsburgh, Nomar Garciaparra and Michael Barrett homered in a three-run sixth inning for Chicago and Greg Maddux got his 316th career victory.

Todd Walker started the decisive sixth with a single, his third hit. Garciaparra, filling in at third base for the injured Aramis Ramirez, followed with his third homer in four games.

Barrett hit his 14th two batters later -- the 26th homer off Josh Fogg (6-10), who has won only twice in 16 starts. Fogg permitted four runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings.

Maddux (11-11) limited the Pirates to one hit and struck out six over five innings, only to be lifted giving up four straight singles in the sixth. With two runs in, runners on first and third and no outs, reliever Michael Wuertz struck out the Nos. 3-5 hitters -- Jason Bay, Craig Wilson and Ryan Doumit -- to strand the potential tying run on base.

Phillies 7, Nationals 1

At Washington, David Bell hit the first grand slam of his career, and Vicente Padilla threw six strong innings to lead Philadelphia over Washington.

The Nationals tied it 1-1 in the second on Brad Wilkerson's RBI single, ending their home scoreless drought at 22 innings.

Padilla (8-12) allowed one run and four hits, walked two and struck out two.

Washington starter John Halama (0-2) gave up six runs and seven hits in three innings.

The Phillies sent 10 batters to the plate in the third and scored five runs, the biggest blow by Bell, who had never homered in 126 previous career at-bats with the bases loaded -- the longest such drought among current players.

Braves 7, Reds 4

Atlanta, Tim Hudson won his fourth straight start and drove in two runs with his first career triple to highlight a six-run fourth inning as Atlanta downed Cincinnati.

Hudson (12-7) earned the victory despite matching his career high with 12 hits allowed in 6 1-3 innings. Coming off consecutive complete games, he gave up four runs but improved to 5-2 since the end of June.

Austin Kearns had three hits, including a three-run homer, for Cincinnati. Ken Griffey Jr. added his 34th homer.

Kyle Farnsworth got four outs for his ninth save.

Reds starter Eric Milton (7-13) gave up seven hits and seven runs, six earned, in 3 1-3 innings.

Brewers 12, Padres 2

At Milwaukee, Geoff Jenkins hit a grand slam to cap a seven-run second inning and Carlos Lee added his 30th homer as Milwaukee thrashed San Diego.

Chris Capuano (15-9) gave up four hits and struck out six in seven innings, snapping the Padres' three-game winning streak.

Padres starter Brian Lawrence (7-14) got just five outs in the shortest start of his career. He left with the score 3-0 and was relieved by Chris Oxspring, who was making his major league debut. He walked Lee on five pitches and Jenkins hit his slam on the next pitch -- his second homer in two days and 20th of the season.

Astros 6, Cardinals 5, 13 innings

At Houston, Eric Bruntlett's RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the 13th capped Houston's third rally since the ninth inning.

The Astros extended the game with homers in the ninth and 10th innings against closer Jason Isringhausen. They won it by pushing two runs across in the 13th against three pitchers.

St. Louis had taken a 5-4 lead when Jim Edmonds led off the 13th with his second homer of the game. It came off Chad Qualls (4-4), who finished the inning and ended up with a victory.

Morgan Ensberg, who homered in the ninth, led off the bottom of the 13th with a single off Julian Tavarez (2-3) but was retired at second on a disputed call. Jason Lane singled and Jose Vizcaino was intentionally walked to load the bases. Ray King came on and hit Orlando Palmeiro with a pitch to force in the tying run. After an out, Bruntlett hit a full-count pitch from Al Reyes to left.

Rockies 11, Dodgers 3

At Denver, Todd Helton homered twice and drove in three runs, and Garrett Atkins added a three-run shot to lead Colorado.

Helton had two of Colorado's 13 hits, and Atkins matched a career high with four RBIs.

Sunny Kim (4-2) worked 5 1-3 innings for the win, allowing one run and six hits. The only run he gave up came on Mike Edwards' third homer. Jose Acevedo pitched three innings for his first major league save.

Jeff Weaver (13-9) gave up six runs and eight hits in five inningsn.

Hideo Nomo had his strongest start in his push for a call-up to the New York Yankees, tossing 7 1-3 scoreless innings for minor league Triple-A Columbus in a 5-0 win over Toledo on Friday.

Nomo (2-3) struck out 10 and allowed only three hits and a walk in his seventh start for the Yankees' top minor league affiliate. He has a 3.62 ERA since joining the Clippers on July 27, but hadn't dominated opposing hitters before facing the Mud Hens.