Angels surge into first-place tie with A's


ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- With a wild game in the AL West, the
Anaheim Angels drew even with the Oakland Athletics.

Scott Spiezio's two-out RBI single in the ninth gave Anaheim a
7-6 victory Thursday night over Oakland and moved the Angels into a
first-place tie with the Athletics atop the division.

The Angels won for the 13th time in 14 games -- including the final three of a four-game series against Oakland -- to move into a tie for the lead for the first time since Aug. 21.

"That was a heck of a series and we came out on top in three of them,'' Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia said. "Even though we shot ourselves in the foot tonight, these guys never got down.

"Talk about some key hits and some key execution offensively,
that was huge tonight.''

Darin Erstad, given the night off by Scioscia, instead was called on to pinch-hit in the ninth and lashed a one-out double down the right-field line off Billy Koch.

Erstad then stole third -- on his own, Scioscia said. After David
Eckstein walked and Garret Anderson popped out, Spiezio drove
Koch's 1-0 pitch to the wall in right center.

Spiezio credited Erstad with the key hit, however.

"When Erstad came off the bench and got that double, that lifted the team to another level,'' Spiezio said. "And when he stole third, it really makes you feel good as a team because you're 90 feet away.''

Koch (9-3) was disgusted with the way he pitched.

"I gave up a double and a ball to the wall. I hung a pitch to
Erstad, then I threw a fastball right down the middle to Spiezio,''
he said.

But the Oakland closer also gave the Angels credit for their play during the series.

"It's great baseball. These guys are a good club. A lot of
people wrote them off early in the season, said they couldn't be
contenders, and that lit a fire under them,'' Koch said.

"We played three one-run games. The last four games, we've
looked identical, getting clutch hits, making plays.''

The A's are 3-4 since their 20-game winning streak ended last Friday in Minnesota.

After Eric Chavez's two-out homer off Brendan Donnelly (1-1) tied it in the top of the ninth, the Angels rallied to win in the
bottom half.

Donnelly, a 31-year-old rookie, won for the first time in the majors.

"I could care less about getting the win,'' he said. "I'm just glad that we won.''

Pinch-hitter Orlando Palmeiro's single in the eighth gave the
Angels a short-lived 6-5 lead.

With two outs in the ninth, Chavez drove an 0-1 pitch into the
right-field seats for his 32nd homer, tying his career high set
last year. It was the first homer that Donnelly had allowed after
pitching 40 innings in the majors.

Alex Ochoa, Garret Anderson and Shawn Wooten each homered for

Ochoa tied it at 5 with a two-out solo home run off Mark Mulder in the seventh, the Angels' third homer of the game against Mulder.

Mulder also was called for a balk that led to a run in the fifth
inning, the first time he had balked after pitching 566 major
league innings. Benji Gil advanced to second and scored on
Eckstein's single to pull Anaheim within 5-4.

Mulder gave up five runs on five hits in seven innings.

Down 3-1, the A's scored four times in the fourth on consecutive
RBI singles by Ellis, Greg Myers, Ray Durham and Scott Hatteberg provided the runs with consecutive RBI singles.

In the first inning, Anderson's 26th homer, a two-run shot, came after Mulder gave up a two-out walk to Spiezio. Wooten followed with his second homer.

Game notes
Angels 3B Troy Glaus was back in the lineup after missing
two games with sprained fingers on his left hand, which he hurt
sliding headfirst on Monday. ... Oakland manager Art Howe said he
expects C Ramon Hernandez to be back in the lineup soon. Hernandez
left Wednesday night's game in the eighth inning after a foul tip
by Ochoa left him Hernandez with a bruised right hand.