- The Washington Times - Monday, May 24, 2004


ANAHEIM, Calif. — Losing four regulars for a long time would derail most teams. Not the Anaheim Angels.

Vladimir Guerrero homered, Jose Guillen hit a three-run double and the Angels completed a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles with an 8-3 victory yesterday.

Manager Mike Scioscia has only two big run producers left because of injuries to Troy Glaus, Tim Salmon, Garret Anderson and Darin Erstad — all of whom have driven in 100 or more runs in a season at least once.

But the rest of the team is pitching in on offense and defense, taking some of the burden off Guerrero and Guillen. Shane Halter, Chone Figgins, Jeff DaVanon and Casey Kotchman have helped the Angels improve to a major league-best 29-15.

“Anytime you pull those kind of guys out of your lineup, you’re going to miss them. But the guys we’ve inserted are good, quality players, too,” winning pitcher Aaron Sele said.

“They bring a little different abilities to the table. They use speed and defense, rather than power, but they fit in well with this team. So it does take the pressure off Vlad and Jose — even though they’re still producing.”

The sweep was the Angels’ fifth this season of at least three games, including a four-game set against Tampa Bay. They tied the best start in franchise history, and lead the AL West by 3 games.

Sele (3-0) allowed three runs — two earned — and six hits through five innings. The two-time All-Star, who began this season as a reliever for the first time in his 12-year career, has a 2.25 ERA and three wins in five starts since replacing an ineffective Ramon Ortiz in the rotation.

The Orioles put runners at second and third with one out in consecutive innings against Scot Shields without scoring. In the sixth, Keith Osik flied out to short left field and Jerry Hairston grounded out. In the seventh, Francisco Rodriguez bailed out Shields by retiring Javy Lopez on a liner to shortstop and Jay Gibbons on a groundout.

“They scored a lot of runs at the beginning, but we should have won that game because we left 11 men on base,” Melvin Mora said. “It’s kind of frustrating when you have the game on the table and lose like that. Their relievers did a great job for them, and that’s the key.”

In 19 appearances this season, Rodriguez has allowed one earned run and struck out 35 in 232/3 innings.

“I can see why he doesn’t give up many runs,” Gibbons said. “He throws 96 miles per hour — and with that ridiculous curveball, it’s tough. You almost have to eliminate a pitch going up there. You can’t really be looking for anything specific because they’re just two totally different kinds of pitches.”

Daniel Cabrera (2-1) was charged with six runs, nine hits and three walks in four innings. He was attempting to become the first pitcher in Orioles history to win his first three big league appearances. The loss was the fourth straight for Baltimore, which dropped five games off the pace in the AL East.

Rafael Palmeiro opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first, but the Angels grabbed a 3-1 lead in the bottom half on RBI singles by Guerrero, Bengie Molina and Kotchman.

Gibbons doubled in the fourth and scored on the first of Larry Bigbie’s three consecutive singles to trim Anaheim’s lead to 3-2. But the Angels again responded in their next at-bat.

Guillen lined his bases-clearing double into the left-field corner for a 6-2 lead — one pitch after Cabrera intentionally walked Guerrero with two outs.

The Orioles got an unearned run in the fifth on a throwing error by second baseman Adam Kennedy, but Guerrero hit his 10th homer leading off the seventh against Darwin Cubillan, and Halter added his third leading off the eighth against Buddy Groom.

Notes — The Angels won both of Sele’s no-decisions as a starter by 1-0 scores. He has not allowed a home run in his last 351/3 innings since April 9, when Texas’ Kevin Mench and Hank Blalock connected during a relief stint. … Mora was 2-for-4 with a walk and leads the majors with a .389 batting average. … The Angels have beaten Baltimore in five of their first six meetings after losing eight of nine last season.

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