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Angels rally from five-run deficit to win game

10/5/2002

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The New York Yankees just can't put away
these Anaheim Angels.

Now, it's the four-time defending AL champions who are one loss
from going home in early October.

Darin Erstad hit a tiebreaking double in the eighth inning and
Tim Salmon followed with a two-run homer as the Angels again
rallied, overcoming a five-run deficit to beat the Yankees 9-6 on
Friday night.

"We've put ourselves in position to close it out,'' Erstad
said. "We'll see what happens.''

Boosted by an outstanding effort from 20-year-old rookie
Francisco Rodriguez and the rest of the relievers, Anaheim took a
2-1 lead in the best-of-five AL Division Series.

"It wouldn't have been possible if not for our bullpen,''
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

The Yankees had only two baserunners in the last six innings.
John Lackey, Scott Schoeneweis, Rodriguez and Troy Percival teamed
up to retire the last 12 batters.

The Angels can win their first postseason series ever Saturday
when their ace, Jarrod Washburn, faces David Wells in Game 4.

The Yankees, however, faced an even more desperate situation
last year in the first round against Oakland. After dropping the
first two games at home, New York came back to advance.

"I think you have to credit the Angels,'' Yankees manager Joe
Torre said. "We were winning 6-1, we just couldn't hold it. Our
pitching just couldn't hold it.''

The Angels have been one of baseball's least successful teams
since they began as an expansion franchise in 1961, appearing in
the playoffs only three times before this year.

Anaheim blew a 2-0 lead in the 1982 AL championship series
against Milwaukee and was one strike away from the World Series in
1986 before losing the last three games to Boston.

Now, the Angels are one win away -- again.

Down 6-1 in the third, they began their comeback against Mike
Mussina. This was only the third time in Yankees postseason history
that they've blown a five-run lead and lost.

Lackey took over for ineffective starter Ramon Ortiz, and
Schoeneweis got a key out against Jason Giambi.

Then, Rodriguez struck out four in two perfect innings for his
second win of the series -- and his major league career.

Percival pitched the ninth -- this time, with no drama -- for his
second save.

Scott Spiezio's RBI single with two outs off losing pitcher Mike
Stanton in the seventh tied it at 6.

Adam Kennedy began the Angels' eighth with a blooper that
bounced out of right fielder Raul Mondesi's glove for a double.
After David Eckstein sacrificed, Erstad lined a double for his
first RBI of the series, bringing the red-clad, sellout crowd of
45,072 at Edison Field to its feet.

"I was looking for something up in the zone so I could at least
hit a fly ball,'' Erstad said. "You get to two strikes, you don't
want to strike out. I just kind of reacted.

"Our pitchers were fantastic. When our starters don't do the
job, we usually pick them up.''

Of the Angels rallying from the five-run deficit, Erstad said:
"We just scratch and claw and scrape.''

Steve Karsay relieved Stanton, and Salmon hit the first pitch
just inside the left-field foul pole.

It marked the third straight game decided in the eighth inning.

The Yankees won the opener 8-5 by scoring four times in the
eighth, while the Angels rallied in Game 2 with three runs in the
eighth for an 8-6 victory.

The Angels have battered New York pitching for 41 hits and 22
runs in the three games.

After the Yankees rouged up Ortiz after 2{ innings, Mussina gave
the Yankees their third straight ineffective outing by a starter in
this series.

Mussina allowed four runs in four innings before leaving because
of tightness in his right groin.

Kennedy's sacrifice fly off Jeff Weaver in the sixth made it
6-5, and the Angels tied it on Spiezio's soft looper barely over
the outstretched glove of second baseman Alfonso Soriano.

Derek Jeter came up with a heads-up play for the second straight
year in Game 3 of the Division Series, this time on the bases.

Jeter hit a one-out single in the first and was running on a 3-1
pitch to Giambi that was ruled ball four.

Catcher Bengie Molina threw to second anyway, and the ball
trickled a few feet past third baseman Troy Glaus, covering because
of the Angels' shift against the left handed-hitting Giambi, and
Jeter alertly took off for an uncovered third base and made it.

Jeter helped Mussina and the Yankees preserve a 1-0 lead in the
seventh inning at Oakland last year by cutting off a throw up the
first-base line -- far from his shortstop position -- and making a
backhanded flip to nip Jeremy Giambi at the plate.

The Yankees went on to win that game and the next two en route
to eliminate the A's.

Game notes
Twice before the Yankees had wasted a five-run lead and
lost in the postseason. In the 1956 World Series, Brooklyn overcame
a 6-0 deficit to win Game 2. In the 1995 AL Division Series,
Seattle came back from a 5-0 deficit to take Game 4. ... The Angels
were playing a postseason game at home for the first time since
Oct. 12, 1986, when they were one out from advancing to the World
Series before blowing a three-run, ninth-inning lead against
Boston. The Red Sox won in 11 innings and added two victories in
Boston to win the AL pennant. ... The only existing teams other
than the Angels who haven't won a postseason series are Houston,
Texas, Colorado and Tampa Bay. ... Lackey, a rookie, was making his
first relief appearance after starting 18 games for the Angels. ...
The Angels, who hit seven homers in seven regular-season games
against the Yankees, have eight in three playoff games.