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ANGEL REPORT

Eckstein Gets Things Started

July 07, 2002|Chris Foster

David Eckstein's shining moment Friday was certainly the 10th-inning infield single that drove in the winning run in a 6-5 victory over Tampa Bay. But the at-bats that were more significant in the big picture came earlier in the game, when Eckstein was the catalyst who got the offense in gear.

Eckstein, the Angels' leadoff batter, has had some clutch moments producing runs, including three grand slams this season. But his main job is to get a rally started.

"I know I need to score more runs," said Eckstein, who was tied for second on the team with 54 runs after Friday's game. "For a week and a half, I haven't felt like I've been doing my job."

Eckstein was struggling at the plate and the offense was suffering because of it. He was one for 14 before Friday's game. He had reached base only three times in the previous four games.

But in the fifth inning Friday, he was hit by a pitch--increasing his American League lead to 12--and then scored on Tim Salmon's single.

In the seventh, Eckstein fought off a two-strike pitch for a single to right, which began a three-run inning.

"Being hit by that pitch felt good," Eckstein said. "Sure it hurt and there is still a bruise. But it got me on base and we scored. Then I got that hit and started a big inning. That's my main job, getting things started."

Eckstein did just that Saturday.

He walked to lead off the first inning and stole second base--his 14th stolen base this season. He scored on Salmon's home run.

*

Reliever Scot Shields picked up his first major league victory Friday, pitching the 10th inning, then benefiting from Eckstein's bases-loaded single.

Shields allowed only a two-out double, then waited in the dugout while the Angels rallied.

"I didn't even think about it when I went in to pitch," Shields said. "I was focusing on what I had to do. When the inning was over, I got to the dugout and started thinking about it. When we loaded the bases, I got pretty excited."

He was awarded the game ball, then had a brief celebration.

"I called my family, then went to bed," Shields said.

TONIGHT

ANGELS'

RAMON ORTIZ

(8-6, 3.38 ERA)

vs.

TANYON STURTZE

(1-9, 4.81)

Edison Field, 5

Radio--KLAC (570), XPRS (1090).

Update--Reliever Al Levine, on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder, played catch for 12 minutes Saturday. "There was no pain," Levine said. Catcher/infielder Shawn Wooten, on a rehabilitation assignment with triple-A Salt Lake City, went two for five with a run batted in Friday. He could be activated after the All-Star break.

Tickets--(714) 663-9000.

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