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Guerrero drives in two in fifth off Ponson

5/23/2004

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Baltimore Orioles tested Jose
Guillen's arm again. And they paid for it -- again.

Guillen threw out a runner at the plate for the second time in
two games to stop the potential tying run from scoring and Vladimir
Guerrero hit a go-ahead, two-run homer to lead the Anaheim Angels
over the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 Saturday night.

On Friday, Guillen threw out Melvin Mora at the plate in a 5-3
win. This time, it was B. J. Surhoff who got caught when he tried
to score from second base on Larry Bigbie's sharp single.

Guillen charged the ball and made a perfect throw on the fly to
Jose Molina to preserve Anaheim's one-run margin.

"Everybody knows he's got one of the best arms in the league,
and if you hit the ball right at him, it's going to be tough to
score," Bigbie said. "But you're got to keep challenging him with
two outs and hope that the throw short-hops the catcher."

Kelvim Escobar (3-2) shrugged off second-inning home runs by
Mora and Javy Lopez to improve his career record against the
Orioles to 11-3. The right-hander allowed two runs and five hits
over seven innings in his longest outing this season, striking out
six and walking two.

"He's one of those guys who, as long as he doesn't have control
problems, he's got some of the best stuff in the league," Bigbie
said. "Against a guy like that, you just have to battle and try to
get a pitch up in the zone. He's got a good split-finger and he
throws a good straight change -- and when you throw 94-95 miles an
hour, it makes everything tough."

Francisco Rodriguez pitched a perfect eighth with two
strikeouts, and Troy Percival worked the ninth, striking out
Surhoff with runners on first and third for his 12th save in 15
attempts.

"I don't know how many times I've had to read that I had the
tying run on base. Well, when you're in a one-run game every day,
that's what happens," said Percival, a four-time All-Star who has
a franchise-record 295 saves.

"There was a point in my career when I didn't have many
baserunners. But by now, everybody in the league has seen me 100
times. So there's going to be people on base, especially now that
I'm struggling mechanically. So I've just got to pitch out of it."

Ponson (3-4) lost for the first time in eight career decisions
against the Angels, allowing three runs, nine hits, and two walks
after shutting them out on five hits in a 4-0 victory over Escobar
last Sunday night at Camden Yards. The complete game was the
Orioles' third this season, all by Ponson, who struck out five and
walked two.

Guerrero, who entered 4-for-18 against Ponson and struck out his
first two times up, drove a first-pitch fastball over the
double-tiered bullpen in left field with two outs in the fifth for
a 3-2 lead. Guerrero's ninth homer came after a leadoff double by
No. 9 hitter Adam Kennedy, helping improve the Angels' record to a
major league-best 28-15.

"The difference was one bad pitch. That's the bottom line,"
Ponson said. "I threw one bad pitch to a good hitter, he hit it
out, and that's the game. The ball was over the plate, and
everything over the plate he hits. It wasn't the pitch selection,
it was the location."

Mora led off the Orioles' fourth with a towering drive to
left-center on an 0-2 pitch, and center fielder Jeff DaVanon lost
sight of the ball in the twilight. But the ball landed beyond the
fence to tie it 1-all. Two outs after Mora's eighth homer, Lopez
sent a first-pitch fastball to the same spot for his sixth of the
season.

The Angels opened the scoring in the third inning with Chone
Figgins' RBI single.

Game notes
Mora still leads the majors with a .386 batting average
after going 2-for-3 with a walk. ... 1B Casey Kotchman, the Angels'
first-round draft pick in 2001, has not struck out in 42 big league
plate appearances since being promoted from Double-A Arkansas on
May 9. It's the longest such streak in the majors from the start of
a career since 1981, when San Diego's Alan Wiggins went 43 plate
appearances before his first strikeout. ... Baltimore's starting
lineup included five players who began the night with career
averages against Escobar of .200 or worse and at least 13 at-bats --
Mora (3-for-19), Surhoff (5-for-26), Bigbie (1-for-13), Brian
Roberts (3-for-22) and Miguel Tejada (4-for-20).