Angels 3, Orioles 2

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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’ RBIsingle.


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).

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