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BASEBALL EXTRA

Lead Goes Down the Drain, Then Angels Fight in Shower

Baseball: Collins calls incident 'in the heat of battle.' Ripken's slam leads Orioles to 8-4 victory.

May 07, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BALTIMORE — We interrupt this postgame news conference with Angel Manager Terry Collins to bring you Tuesday Night at the Fights, starring at least two unidentified Angels who engaged in a heated shouting match after an 8-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

Collins was just beginning to dissect the game, in which the Angels blew a 4-2 lead and Pep Harris gave up a tie-breaking grand slam to Cal Ripken Jr. in the seventh inning, when expletives began flying between players in the shower room in the Angels' Camden Yards clubhouse.

The manager rushed into the shower area to restore order, while Tim Mead, Angel assistant general manager, and two public-relations employees kicked reporters out of the clubhouse.

Collins, who has helped foster a more aggressive and intense attitude on the Angels and predicted in spring training that something like this would happen, emerged from the clubhouse a few minutes later but declined to discuss the incident in detail.

"It's just something that happened in the heat of the battle," Collins said. "Guys were just frustrated."

The one who appeared most upset was third baseman Dave Hollins, who stared into his locker and flung an empty beer can about 20 feet across the clubhouse. Hollins then went into a closed-door meeting with Collins that lasted at least a half-hour.

But Collins later said Hollins was only upset about the fight, and not one of its participants. The Angels did a much better job protecting the identity of the combatants than their two-run lead, as numerous players interviewed acted as if they had no idea what happened.

Fight? What fight?

"Someone was yelling at someone, but I don't know who," center fielder Jim Edmonds said. "I don't even know what they were yelling about . . . but it's not necessarily bad [that this happened]. We need guys to be aggressive on this team."

Added reliever Mike James: "That's what makes a good team, love and hate. I ain't never seen a marriage that didn't have any bickering."

There was plenty for the Angels to be frustrated about Tuesday. They built a 4-2 lead off Oriole starter Scott Erickson on the strength of a three-run third inning--highlighted by Edmonds' RBI double and Hollins' RBI single--and Darin Erstad's RBI single in the fourth.

But one of Baltimore's runs came on catcher Jorge Fabregas' third-inning error, when he failed to block starter Chuck Finley's strikeout pitch in the dirt against Rafael Palmeiro, then threw low to first, allowing Brady Anderson to score from second.

Baltimore then rallied in the seventh when B.J. Surhoff singled and Lenny Webster doubled off Finley, cutting the lead to 4-3. Mike Bordick, trying to move Webster to third with a grounder to the right side, wound up singling to right, Webster stopping at third.

Anderson then hit a dribbler to first, but Erstad had trouble getting the ball out of his glove, failed to get a good grip and threw late to Fabregas, as Webster slid home with the tying run.

"If I had got it out of my glove perfectly I might have had a chance," said Erstad, the converted outfielder. "It came at the wrong time."

Finley struck out Roberto Alomar, Eric Davis, who had four hits, singled to load the bases, and Finley struck out Palmeiro on a nasty full-count fork ball for the second out.

With Finley's pitch count at 117, Collins summoned Harris, the right-hander who walked three and was charged with two runs in a 4-2 loss to Chicago on Sunday, to face Ripken.

Harris threw a breaking pitch for a ball, then grooved a fastball that Ripken jumped all over, launching it into the bleachers for his sixth career grand slam.

"Missing with the curve was a mistake," Harris said. "I didn't have to come back with the fastball, but my fastball had good movement in the bullpen and I felt good about the pitch."

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