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Anderson Gives Angels a Boost, 3-2

Baseball: He gets team's first hit in the seventh, then knocks in winning run as Anaheim beats Kansas City to remain 5 1/2 games behind Seattle.


If there was any life to the Angel offense in the first six innings Sunday, you needed a stethoscope to detect it. Twenty-three batters came to the plate against Kansas City pitcher Tim Belcher, and not one mustered a hit, extending the team's scoreless-inning streak to 14.

But Garret Anderson resuscitated the Angels with a leadoff double in the seventh, Jack Howell followed with a game-tying, two-run home run, and Anderson's sacrifice fly in the eighth gave the Angels a 3-2 victory over the Royals before 15,955 in Anaheim Stadium.

The Seattle Mariners still have plenty of breathing room in the American League West--they retained a 5 1/2-game lead with their victory Sunday--but the Angels, who have 13 games left, showed they still have a pulse, even if it is faint.

"We're going to have to win and Seattle is going to have to lose for us to have a chance--that's the bottom line," center fielder Jim Edmonds said. "They're not going to fall on their face, but if they do, we'll be there."

The Angels, who have lost 19 of their last 28, have two games left against the Mariners, in Seattle on Sept. 23-24. Even if the Mariners go 3-9 in their final 12 games, the Angels must go 9-4 to tie them. The goal is to at least prevent a pennant-clinching celebration in the Kingdome.

"We've dug ourselves a hole and we're real lucky Seattle hasn't taken advantage of that and buried us," said Manager Terry Collins, who was ejected for arguing with third-base umpire Gary Cederstrom in the eighth inning. "We want to stay close, because we want the games in Seattle to mean something."

They'll be meaningless unless the Angels go on a winning streak this week and the Mariners slip, "but hopefully this will get us on a roll," Collins said. "We've been real flat."

Fortunately for Collins, his reserve tank was full. Howell, a utility player who has started only 34 games this season but was in Sunday's lineup, launched a full-count Belcher pitch into the right-field bleachers in the seventh inning to pull the Angels even, 2-2.

Then backup infielder Luis Alicea, who replaced the injured Darin Erstad (hyper-flexed right shoulder) in the fifth inning, led off the eighth with a double to right.

Tim Salmon moved Alicea to third with a groundout and, after Edmonds walked, Anderson lifted a fly ball to deep center against Royal reliever Jamie Walker to score Alicea with the winning run.

Troy Percival gave the Angels a scare, giving up back-to-back singles with one out in the ninth, but second baseman Tony Phillips made a backhand stop of Johnny Damon's grounder up the middle and forced Jose Offerman at second, and Percival got Jay Bell to pop out to end the game.

"When you know you're ragged, and I was, you just have to throw strikes and keep the ball down," said Percival, who has 25 saves. "I didn't have real good stuff today."

Neither did Angel starter Ken Hill, but the right-hander, who has emerged as the team's ace the last two weeks, fought through a seven-inning, six-walk performance to give up only two runs and five hits.

"It wasn't pretty, but I battled my butt off and gave the team a chance," said Hill, who has given up eight earned runs in 36 innings in his last five starts. "This is not the time to be worried about personal statistics."

Two Royals who drew walks scored on RBI singles by Bell in the third and seventh innings, but Hill helped himself by fielding Roderick Myers' fourth-inning grounder with Jeff King on third and starting a rundown in which King was tagged out.

Was there any pitch Hill had particular good command of? "None," he said. "I had good velocity, but my slider was hanging all day. I was just lucky enough to hit a few key spots."

The same could not be said about the Angels on Saturday, when the team went 0 for 17 with runners in scoring position in a 13-inning loss to the Royals. But Howell helped redeem the Angels on Sunday.

"He's a real professional," Collins said. "He's one guy you can put in any situation because he's been there, whether it's a tough pinch-hitting role or as a starter . . . and he can hit a home run."

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