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BASEBALL EXTRA

Collins Makes a Point, Salmon Drives It Home

Angels: Manager reminds team of lack of home runs, then watches right-fielder belt three-run homer in eighth in 7-2 victory over Orioles.

May 06, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BALTIMORE — It was hardly a Knute Rockne-caliber pep talk, but Angel Manager Terry Collins did have some choice words for his players before Monday night's game, reminding them they ranked last in the American League in home runs (20) and walks (81).

So what happened against the team with the league's best record? Five Angels walked--three of them eventually scoring--and Tim Salmon blasted a three-run homer in the eighth inning to break open a two-run game and propel the Angels to a 7-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles before 41,296 in Camden Yards.

Garret Anderson came up with the game's biggest defensive play, preserving a two-run lead by throwing out Chris Hoiles at home in the seventh inning; Jason Dickson made another quality start; and Mike James tossed 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for his third save of the season.

The Angels had homered just once in their previous seven games, and Salmon hadn't homered since April 25. But he lined a Terry Mathews fastball over the center-field wall, putting the game out of reach.

"There might be a correlation between walks and homers," Salmon said. "We needed to be more patient, see more pitches, and when you walk and get guys on base, it helps the next guy hit because the pitcher is distracted. I think that's why you see a lot of homers with guys on base."

There's also a correlation between good defense and winning, and the Orioles, who have the league's best fielding percentage and were on an eight-game errorless streak, botched a routine play that cost them two runs, while the Angels sparkled in the field.

Dave Hollins opened the eighth off Mathews with a single, and Jim Leyritz followed with a grounder back to the mound. Mathews fielded the ball cleanly, but his throw sailed about four feet over shortstop Mike Bordick's head and into center field, allowing Hollins to take third.

Next pitch to Salmon: Boom! Game over.

"That," Collins said of Salmon's homer, "relieved a lot a tension."

Trailing, 4-2, in the seventh, Baltimore had runners on first and second with one out when Roberto Alomar singled to left off reliever Chuck McElroy.

Oriole catcher Chris Hoiles, hardly a Kenny Lofton clone, chugged around third and, much to the surprise of just about everyone in Camden Yards, was waved home by Coach Sam Perlozzo.

Anderson air-mailed a perfect throw on the fly to Leyritz, who withstood a minor collision while tagging out Hoiles. James then came on and struck out Eric Davis with a nasty slider to end the inning.

"That was the biggest play of the game," Collins said. "It was a great throw."

Anderson said he knew he had a shot to get Hoiles, "because the ball got to me quick, and Hoiles is not a turtle, but he's not the fastest guy on the team," he said. "It felt great, and that was a big point in the game."

So was the first inning, when Oriole starter Scott Kamieniecki retired the first two batters but inexplicably lost his control, walking Hollins and Leyritz. Salmon, who has a .769 career average (10 for 13) against Kamieniecki, lined a run-scoring single to right for a 1-0 lead.

Anderson walked to load the bases, and Eddie Murray, the former Oriole who received a warm ovation before his first at-bat, quickly quieted the crowd with a two-run single to center. Luis Alicea capped the rally with a run-scoring single to center.

Dickson (5-1) was bombed by Boston in his last start, suffering his first loss of the season, but he bounced back with a solid game, limiting a potent Baltimore lineup to two runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings.

The rookie right-hander retired eight in a row after Brady Anderson's leadoff double and pitched out of a two-out, two-on jam by striking out Pete Incaviglia with a slow curve in the sixth.

The Orioles scored in the fifth when Hoiles singled and Bordick, the No. 9 hitter, lifted a high fly ball into the third row of the left-field bleachers, just over the 333-foot mark, for his first homer.

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