Playoff Series: Game 4 of 5

Anaheim won 4-1

Game 1: Tuesday, October 8
Anaheim 1Final
Minnesota 2
Game 2: Wednesday, October 9
Anaheim 6Final
Minnesota 3
Game 3: Friday, October 11
Minnesota 1Final
Anaheim 2
Game 4: Saturday, October 12
Minnesota 1Final
Anaheim 7
Game 5: Sunday, October 13
Minnesota 5Final
Anaheim 13

Angels 7


    7:50 PM ET, October 12, 2002

    Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, California 

    123456789 R H E
    MIN 000000001 1 - -
    ANA 00000025 - 7 - -

    W: J. Lackey (1-0)

    L: B. Radke (0-1)

    Angels just one victory from World Series

    ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- One win from the World Series.

    For 16 years, the Angels waited to get back. Now they're on the verge again, and just like in 1986, they have three tries at winning the first pennant in franchise history.

    Game 4 at a glance
    Rookie John Lackey, making his first postseason start, pitched seven shutout innings and allowed only three hits while striking out seven and walking none.

    Jacque Jones continued his horrible ALCS and has just one hit in his last 23 postseason at-bats, all while batting in the leadoff spot. Ron Gardenhire might want to think about dropping Jones in the order, if not benching him entirely, for Game 5.

    Key move
    Lackey looked as able as anyone to start the eighth inning, but Mike Scioscia didn't hesitate in bringing in Francisco Rodriguez to begin the eighth with a slim 2-0 lead. Rodriguez responded by retiring three of the four batters he faced, including two strikeouts (he gave up a bloop double to lead off the inning).

    Key stat
    Corey Koskie has just one hit (a two-out double in the ninth) in his last nine at-bats and has struck out in seven of those plate appearances.

    Looking ahead
    Game 1 winner Joe Mays will get the start in Game 5 hoping to keep the Twins' season alive. He was brilliant in the opener as he allowed just one run on four hits in eight innings. Kevin Appier counters for the Angels. Appier is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts this postseason, including suffering the loss in Game 1.

    "I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight. One more win and we're in!'' Bengie Molina said after Anaheim broke up a scoreless game in the seventh inning and beat the Minnesota Twins 7-1 Saturday night for a 3-1 lead in the AL championship series.

    Rookie John Lackey outpitched Brad Radke with seven shutout innings, postseason star Troy Glaus hit a go-ahead single in the seventh and Anaheim broke it open against Minnesota's bullpen.

    And it happened exactly 16 years to the day that the Angels were just one strike from a World Series trip before Boston's Dave Henderson homered off Donnie Moore, starting the Angels' downward spiral. The Red Sox came back to win in extra innings, then won the next two games at Fenway Park to win the series 4-3.

    "We're not counting anything yet. There's a huge challenge ahead of us,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "You don't taste it until you win four games in the series and that last out is made. We've been around long enough to know that.''

    Lackey, a 23-year-old rookie right-hander who made his major league debut June 24, made it three straight for the Angels since the series-opening loss at the Metrodome. He is only the No. 4 starter for Anaheim but he pitched like an ace, holding the Twins to three singles in seven innings, striking out seven and walking none. He didn't let a runner past first base.

    "For a youngster who was in the minor leagues 3 months ago to come up and do that was incredible,'' Scioscia said. "John was about as on tonight as you could be.''

    It was another electric night at Edison Field, with the crowd of 44,830 nearly all in red. Fans banged their inflatable plastic Thunder Stix from start to finish, waved their stuffed "rally monkeys'' and even wore feathery halos on their heads.

    "One cloud away,'' read one hope-filled sign behind the Twins' dugout.

    For 42 years, the theme of this franchise has been "Heaven Can Wait,'' with the Angels failing to advance to the World Series that founding owner Gene Autry had dreamed of for decades.

    Kevin Appier can end the waiting Sunday and put the Angels in the World Series against San Francisco or St. Louis. He will start against Joe Mays, the pitcher he lost to in the opener. Anaheim is 4-0 at home during the playoffs.

    Minnesota is one loss from a frustrating end to a surprising season. The Twins survived the attempt by baseball owners to fold the franchise, advanced to the playoffs for the first time in 11 years, then upset Oakland 3-2 in the first round.

    "We just got to play loose and not worry and, hopefully, we can win one and go back home,'' first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz said. "You know our record at home. If we go back down 3-2, we feel like we've got a chance.''

    Pitchers dominated as they have throughout the series. Anaheim, which has outscored the Twins 16-7, is hitting .237, only slightly better than Minnesota's .217.

    Lackey's only previous postseason appearance was in Game 3 of the first-round series against the New York Yankees, when he pitched three shutout innings in the Angels' comeback from a five-run deficit. He hadn't started since Sept. 26, but allowed just one leadoff runner, using a sharp breaking ball and kept his fastball down to stifle the Twins.

    At the same time, Radke was blanking the Angels.

    "It was a situation where I was trying to match him pitch for pitch,'' Lackey said. "He was throwing a tremendous game himself. Our guys have been battling all year. I knew they eventually would come through.''

    Radke, who beat Oakland in Games 1 and 5 of the first round, allowed just two hits in the first six innings, went to just one 2-0 count and didn't go to three balls on any batters.

    "He did everything he was supposed to do for this baseball team,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Their hits were bloops. They got one solid hit -- Glaus hit a solid ball.''

    Darin Erstad singled leading off the seventh, becoming Anaheim's third runner. When he broke for second on a steal attempt, Minnesota's defense cracked again. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski's throw bounced into center for the Twins' seventh error of the postseason, and Erstad took third.

    Tim Salmon walked, Garret Anderson popped out and Glaus, whose eighth-inning homer gave the Angels a 2-1 win Friday, lined a 1-0 pitch into left field for the first run. Scott Spiezio added a bloop RBI double that landed just inside the right-field line.

    It got ugly in the eighth, after Erstad hit a one-out single and Johan Santana threw away a pickoff for error No. 8. Anderson singled in a run in off J.C. Romero, and Mike Jackson gave up Brad Fullmer's two-run double and Molina's two-run triple -- his first in two years.

    Francisco Rodriguez pitched the eighth, and Ben Weber finished the six-hitter, giving up an RBI single to David Ortiz.

    Now, the wild-card Angels have three chances for that elusive pennant-winning victory. Exactly 16 years ago, on Oct. 12, 1986, they were one strike away when Boston's Dave Henderson hit a go-ahead, two-run homer off Moore. The Red Sox went on to win in extra innings, then won the next two games at Fenway Park.

    Three years later, Moore shot his wife and killed himself, and lingering memories were cited as part of the cause. Autry died four years ago, after The Walt Disney Co. took control of the team, but his memory lives on for the players and fans.

    "We're not looking past tomorrow's game,'' Scioscia said. "Our tunnel vision is for tomorrow.''

    Game notes

    Eight of the previous 10 teams to takes 3-1 ALCS leads won the pennant. The other exception was when Kansas City beat Toronto in 1985. ... California Gov. Gray Davis sat with Disney CEO Michael Eisner. Actor John Travolta also watched from a box. ... Lackey and Radke needed just 136 combined pitches to get through 6 innings. ... Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda was at the game to support Scioscia, a former Los Angeles player. ... Corey Koskie struck out in six straight ABs, an ALCS record and one short of Cesar Geronimo's LCS record, before popping out.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press