Angels 4, Mets 3

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NEW YORK (AP)—His manager called it a hit, the official scorer ruled it an error. After a stinging loss a night earlier, Darin Erstad was just glad his grounder down the third-base line gave the Angels the lead.

Pinch-runner Robb Quinlan scored on David Wright’s error in the ninth inning, and Los Angeles rallied against Pedro Martinez and the New York Mets for a 4-3 victory Sunday.

“Run scores, we win. I could care less about that stuff,” Erstad said.

Trailing 3-0 going into the fifth inning—thanks partly to Martinez’s first RBI in nearly nine years, the Angels bounced back after blowing a 3-2 lead in the 10th inning Saturday night and took two of three from the Mets to finish their 12-game road trip 6-6.

“They called that an error?” Angels manager Mike Scioscia asked. “I thought it was a clean hit all the way. It took a nasty hop to his backhand, and even if he picks it clean he’s going to have to make a heck of a throw to get Ersty.”

Mets closer Braden Looper (2-2) walked Jose Molina to start the ninth. Quinlan advanced to second on pinch-hitter Josh Paul’s sacrifice and moved to third on a groundout. Erstad then hit a groundball down the third-base line that Wright tried to backhand, but ball hopped up high and skipped off his glove, allowing Quinlan to score.

“The play I botched in the ninth has to be made,” said Wright, who has made 11 errors this season. “It was a battle and I let my teammates down.”

Scot Shields (5-3) pitched two innings for the win and Francisco Rodriguez worked a perfect ninth for his 12th save. The Angels’ bullpen had been 2-5 with four blown saves on the trip, but allowed just one hit in 3 1-3 innings.

“The only way we were going to beat good pitching was with good pitching,” Scioscia said. “Our bullpen held it right there.”

Mets catcher Mike Piazza was ejected by home plate umpire Eric Cooper in the first inning after being called out on strikes. He was tossed while sitting in the dugout during the at-bat of Wright—the next batter.

Piazza disagreed with several calls, but said it was Cooper’s “bad attitude” that really annoyed the usually even-tempered catcher.

“I just think he did a bad job today. Period,” Piazza said. “Pedro’s out there working hard and I’m just pulling for my pitcher—look at the first two pitches of the game.”

The Associated Press was told Cooper would not comment.

Martinez drove in his first run since he was with the Montreal Expos on Aug. 2, 1996, with a two-out RBI single to center field in the Mets’ two-run fourth inning. He now has a three-game hitting streak.

“They tell me they have to watch out for (Joe) DiMaggio,” Martinez said of his teammates joking about his hitting prowess.

The Shea Stadium crowd of 43,582 began chanting “Pedro! Pedro!” the moment he stepped into the batter’s box in that inning, and once his hit dropped in— scoring Doug Mientkiewicz—the fans rose to their feet and became even more boisterous. Martinez stood on top of first base with a big grin on his face.

Martinez’s hit followed Miguel Cairo’s sacrifice fly to make it 3-0, seemingly more than enough support for the pitcher that had allowed one run or less in his past four starts.

But running out the hit might have tired Martinez on the 88-degree day. The Angels scored one in the fifth inning and two in the sixth to tie it 3-all.

“I didn’t feel in command at all. I just grinded,” Martinez said.

Orlando Cabrera tripled with one out in the fifth for the Angels’ first hit since No. 2 hitter Erstad singled in the first. His liner to right field tipped off a diving Mike Cameron’s glove and rolled to the wall. Cabrera scored on Adam Kennedy’s single to make it 3-1.

Steve Finley’s RBI double and Dallas McPherson’s run-scoring groundout tied it after Erstad singled and Vladimir Guerrero walked on a pitch that forced him to squat down as the ball sailed just over his helmet.

Martinez, who has won five straight decisions, was removed to start the eighth inning having allowed three runs and six hits with four walks. He struck out a season-low three.

“When you don’t get calls, then you don’t pitches where you want them to be,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “But overall he pitched pretty well.”

Cliff Floyd followed his game-winning three-run homer Saturday with an RBI single in the first to give the Mets the early lead.

Angels starter John Lackey gave up three runs on six hits and a season-high six walks in 5 2-3 innings.


Garret Anderson was kept out of the Angels lineup because of a sore right hamstring. … Martinez is 3-for-7 since starting the season 0-for-29 as a hitter. … Since Tuesday, the Mets sold about 10,000 tickets for the game.

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