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It's Much Smoother for Vaughn, Angels This Time Around

Baseball: Slugger reverses his fortunes and drives in winning run in 8-6 victory over Devil Rays.


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Mo Vaughn took his lumps Friday night, striking out in a key eighth-inning situation with the potential tying run on third base.

Saturday night, Vaughn redeemed himself, snapping an eighth-inning tie with an RBI single to center to help lift the Angels to an 8-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays before 23,168 at Tropicana Field.

Darin Erstad and Randy Velarde opened the eighth with singles off Devil Ray reliever Alan Newman, and Vaughn followed with a grounder beyond diving second baseman Miguel Cairo, scoring Erstad for a 7-6 lead.

Esteban Yan, who struck out Vaughn in the eighth inning of Tampa Bay's victory Friday night, relieved Newman, but Todd Greene, who doubled in the first and had an RBI single in the third, greeted the right-hander with an RBI single to left to make it 8-6.

Closer Troy Percival retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth for his 11th save, ending a game in which the Angels pounded five Tampa Bay pitchers for 16 hits but blew leads of 2-0 and 6-4.

Angel reliever Mark Petkovsek was one batter away from working out of a runners-on-second-and-third, one-out jam in the seventh after getting Kevin Stocker to ground to third with the runners holding, but leadoff batter Quinton McCracken golfed a low sinker into right field for a two-run single that made it 6-6.

The Angels had erased a 4-2 deficit with three runs in the sixth and made it 6-4 with a run in the seventh. Steve Decker and Troy Glaus opened the sixth with singles, and after failing on two sacrifice bunts, Tim Unroe hit a two-run, tying double.

Andy Sheets bunted Unroe to third and, after Devil Ray reliever Bryan Rekar struck out Erstad, Velarde looped an RBI single to right for a 5-4 lead. Garret Anderson, who had an RBI single in the third, and Decker opened the seventh with singles and Glaus walked to load the bases, but the Angels managed only one run when pinch-hitter Orlando Palmeiro grounded into a double play and Sheets struck out.

Angel starter Steve Sparks tied a major league record, an American League record and a club record Saturday night, but this was not a trifecta he will boast about.

The knuckleballer hit three consecutive batters in the third inning, two with the bases loaded, to tie a major league record held by five others. He became the 11th pitcher in the AL and the second Angel, joining Ken McBride in 1964, to hit four batters in a game.

Sparks also walked six and gave up five hits, but limited the damage to four runs in five innings.

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