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Springer Helps Angels Keep Up the Comebacks

Baseball: Knuckleballer has strong effort in relief, and three two-run homers overcome 5-0 deficit against Orioles, 6-5.


The Angels couldn't hold a lead for five consecutive days last week. Now they can't hold a deficit. They could no more buy a clutch hit during a five-game losing streak than most can afford a day at Disneyland, but now the big hits are flowing like coins from a slot-machine jackpot.

Wednesday night the Angels spotted the Baltimore Orioles, the team with the best record in baseball, a five-run lead before storming back for a 6-5 victory before 15,780 in Anaheim Stadium.

It was the Angels' third consecutive come-from-behind victory and equaled their biggest comeback of the year, which was achieved Monday when they erased a 5-0 deficit and beat the Chicago White Sox, 16-8. They also trailed the White Sox, 3-0, Tuesday before coming back for an 8-7 victory.

"It's a real confidence-builder to come back again," Manager Terry Collins said. "It shows that our guys don't give up."

The Angels managed only seven hits but scored two runs in each of the third, fourth and fifth innings, the rally capped by Jim Edmonds' two-run homer in the fifth.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday May 16, 1997 Orange County Edition Sports Part C Page 5 Sports Desk 1 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction
Home run--The batter was incorrectly identified in the photograph of Jim Edmonds reaching for a home run that appeared in Thursday's Times Orange County Edition. Cal Ripken hit the home run.

The victory, though, would not have been possible without reliever Dennis Springer, who, in his first appearance in 11 days, gave up two hits in 5 2/3 innings before being replaced by Mike Holtz with two out in the ninth.

"Without Dennis tonight," said Collins, who had Springer throw batting practice Monday to stay sharp, "we had no chance."

Collins' decision to remove Springer was greeted with boos, which were drowned out by a standing ovation for Springer, who replaced starter Shigetoshi Hasegawa to begin the fourth and struck out six.

After Springer's departure, Brady Anderson reached on an infield single, but Holtz struck out Roberto Alomar looking at a nasty curve for the third out and the first save of his career.

Springer's critical moment came in the sixth when the Orioles had runners on first and third with two out and hot-hitting Anderson up. Anderson worked the count full, fouling off several knuckleballs.

Anderson, who homered in the first and singled in the second, then swung and missed at a Springer fastball to end the inning.

"That was the biggest at-bat of the game," Springer said. "They could have gotten a couple of runs quickly with him at the plate, but I was able to sneak a fastball by him."

That pitch helped Springer win his first game of 1997 and complete another successful stint against the Orioles. Last Aug. 25, Springer threw the best game of his two-year career in Camden Yards, a complete-game, five-hit shutout in a 13-0 victory.

"It was definitely fun out there tonight," Springer said. "Baltimore has a lot of fastball hitters, and it's a big change to face someone like me."

The Angels began their comeback in the third inning Wednesday when Jorge Fabregas walked and Darin Erstad hit a two-out, two-run homer to right field, the first hit off Baltimore starter Mike Johnson.

Tim Salmon then opened the fourth inning with a single and Garret Anderson followed with a two-run homer to right, cutting the lead to 5-4 and giving the Angel left fielder his second homer of the season and first since April 6.

Former Angel Shawn Boskie, who gave up 40 home runs in 1996, replaced Johnson to start the fifth, and Erstad greeted him with a single to center. Edmonds then lined a pitch over the left-center field wall to give the Angels a 6-5 lead.

Washed away by the Angel comeback was a horrendous start by Hasegawa, the Japanese right-hander who lasted only three innings, giving up five runs on eight hits.

The Orioles had a 1-0 lead before most Angel fans left the house, thanks to Anderson ripped Hasegawa's first pitch about 10 rows up in the right-field bleachers.

Cal Ripken Jr. made it 3-0 by the time most fans had reached the parking lot when he followed Rafael Palmeiro's first-inning with a two-run homer. Singles by Palmeiro and Ripken, and B.J. Surhoff's double in the third gave Baltimore a 4-0 lead, and Chris Hoiles' RBI infield single made it 5-0.

The the Angels broke out their drivers and began teeing off on the Orioles.

"Those two-run homers are nice," Collins said. "Other teams have been doing that to us. It's good to get a few ourselves."

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