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Angel Backups Put Together a Win

With Guerrero and Anderson injured and watching from the dugout, the job falls to the unlikely power sources of Paul, Quinlan and Erstad as they beat Mariners, 8-4.

July 25, 2004|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE — With the sluggers out of commission, the Angels slugged the Seattle Mariners into submission.

The Angels cobbled together a lineup Saturday, with the unlikeliest of results. Josh Paul, who plays once a week in a good week, hit his first home run in three years. Robb Quinlan, the third choice at third base, hit his first major league home run. Darin Erstad, whose power seemingly evaporated a couple of years ago, hit his first home run against a left-handed pitcher this season.

With Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson nursing injuries and watching from the dugout, the supporting cast did the big boys proud in the 8-4 win. The Angels, hanging tough amid tough times, won their third consecutive game and closed within one game of the American League wild-card lead.

They also crept within four games of the first-place Texas Rangers in the AL West, with the Angels and Rangers opening a three-game series in Anaheim Monday.

"We feel depth is one of our strengths," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "It shows up on nights G.A. and Vlad aren't in the lineup. You don't want to go too many nights like that, but we feel we can still go out there and put a decent lineup together."

The Angels' lineup had a Cactus League feel to it. Tim Salmon batted third, a night after batting eighth. First baseman Quinlan played third base so Figgins could fill in for Anderson in center field rather than for the injured Troy Glaus at third.

Paul, the third catcher, became the 13th player to start at designated hitter for the Angels this season.

Not that Scioscia had much choice. With Guerrero and Anderson unavailable, probably for the weekend, and Jeff DaVanon put on the disabled list Saturday, the Angels played with a two-man bench -- utility infielder Alfredo Amezaga and backup catcher Jose Molina.

So, if the Angels make the playoffs, this night will be one to remember. They trailed, 3-1, after five innings, limited to an unearned run off spot starter Ron Villone. In the sixth, Quinlan hit a solo home run off Villone, his first homer in 178 major league at-bats. The rookie got the ball back and gave the fan who caught it two bats, only one his own.

"I'm giving him a Garret Anderson bat," Quinlan said. "I'll throw that in there to make it worth his while."

In the seventh, the Angels batted around, scoring five times off relievers Julio Mateo and Mike Myers.

Quinlan doubled home Figgins, tying the score, 3-3. Myers, the left-handed specialist brought in to retire the left-handed Erstad, gave up a two-run home run instead. After Bengie Molina singled, Paul hit a two-run homer of his own.

Paul, the quintessential veteran backup catcher, hit the fifth home run of his career and quickly remembered who gave up the last one -- Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia, on Sept. 8, 2001.

"Now I know why Vladdy smiles all the time," Paul said. "He does that every other night," Paul said. "It's a great feeling."

In the eighth, Quinlan singled home another run, completing his first three-RBI game and boosting his batting average to .314.

Aaron Sele, threatened with the loss of his spot in the starting rotation, worked six innings and struck out none. He gave up three runs, two earned, and he was rewarded with the victory. He remained undefeated at 6-0, but he won for just the second time in seven starts. The Angels have scored at least five runs in each of those seven games.

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