- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 10, 2002

MINNEAPOLIS So much for Minnesota's Metrodome dominance.

Darin Erstad and Brad Fullmer homered off Rick Reed as Anaheim built a six-run lead, and the high-flying Angels beat the perky, pesky Twins 6-3 last night to head home with a split in the first two games of the American League Championship Series.

"You have to get acclimated to the dome," Fullmer said. "We got acclimated a little bit."

A night after Joe Mays stymied Anaheim's high-octane offense in the Twins' 2-1 opening victory, the Angels got to Reed from the start. Erstad, the No. 2 batter, sent Reed's sixth pitch over the fence in right-center, where it landed 409 feet away nestled in one of the stacked-up seats used for Vikings games.

"It's nice to get a lead. It's nice to jump out. That gave us a big lift," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

Anaheim tacked on three more runs in the second, two of them unearned because of a costly error by catcher A.J. Pierzynski who couldn't hold on to a throw home after Reed caught a runner off first.

"The game should have been 2-0," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

When Fullmer chased Reed with a two-run homer in the sixth, it seemed over. But Minnesota battled right back, knocking Ramon Ortiz out in the sixth when Corey Koskie hit an RBI single and Doug Mientkiewicz, who had three hits, had a two-run single.

Brendan Donnelly replaced Ortiz and got out of the inning, and 20-year-old rookie Francisco Rodriguez struck out two in a 1-2-3 seventh.

After a two-out walk to Torii Hunter and a single by Mientkiewicz put runners at the corners in the eighth, Scioscia brought in Troy Percival, whom he had been reluctant to use in the eighth until after the New York Yankees rallied to win the division series opener.

"Percy is a guy we do have available for four outs when necessary," said Scioscia, who brought in his closer just four times in the eighth during the regular season.

Percival, who hasn't allowed an unearned run to Minnesota in 35 innings during the regular season, got ahead 1-2 in the count on pinch-hitter Bobby Kielty. With the crowd on its feet, shouting and waving Homer Hankies, Kielty took a called third strike on a changeup.

"It came back nice over the inside corner," said Percival, who finished up with a perfect ninth for the save. He struck out three of the four batters he faced.

"We made too many mistakes early," Gardenhire said. "We had a chance. We had some runners on and had some opportunities."

When the series resumes tomorrow in California, where the Angels' "rally monkey" awaits, Jarrod Washburn pitches against the Twins' Eric Milton who no-hit Anaheim in September 1999.

With Tuesday's win, Minnesota improved its postseason record at the Metrodome where grounders to shortstop can turn into doubles to 13-2. Reed has two of the Twins' three postseason losses in the dome.

Anaheim, which had been 1-9 in ALCS road games, found the solution: Get a big early lead to quiet those Homer Hanky-waving fans.

"Our job was to come here and win one out of two on the road," Fullmer said.

A Metrodome baseball record 55,990 filled the ballpark, and they didn't like what they saw early. Erstad, 5-for-12 against Reed in his career, put the Angels ahead in the first with his first postseason homer.

After failing to get a leadoff hitter on in the first 10 innings of the series, Anaheim's first three batters got hits in the second, with Scott Spiezio's bloop double near the right-field line bouncing over an onrushing Michael Cuddyer to make it 2-0.

After Reed threw out a runner at the plate on a comebacker, Pierzynski's error cost the Twins, the top-fielding team in the major leagues during the regular season, two more runs.

Reed caught Adam Kennedy leaning and threw to first for the pickoff. Kennedy broke for second, Spiezio then headed home from third, and Mientkiewicz threw to the plate.

But Pierzynski couldn't handle the throw as Spiezio made contact with him and scored. David Eckstein's RBI single made it 4-0.

Minnesota, which had just 74 errors in 161 games during the season, had six in seven postseason games. Pierzynski, who had three during the season, has two during the playoffs.

Ortiz, hit hard by the Yankees last Friday, allowed three runs and 10 hits in 5⅓ innings, repeatedly pitching out of trouble. Minnesota's leadoff hitters reached in the third, fourth and fifth innings, but one was erased by a pickoff and two by double-play grounders. Anaheim has turned eight already in the postseason

Reed, 1-3 in seven career postseason starts, gave up six runs four earned and eight hits in 5⅓ innings.

"I've got a lot of redeeming to do, but it's a seven-game series," Reed said. "My number might come up again."

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