Solo Homers Let Finley Win 15th : Baseball: Sojo, Joyner and Gaetti lift Angels past Mariners, 4-1. Harvey puts two runners on before ending game.
Luis Sojo waited at his locker, smiling and waving frantically in mock denial.
“No, no,” he said. “I don’t use steroids, I tell you that.”
Sojo, the Angels’ fluid second baseman, is thought to be a powerless hitter with only line-drive potential. But on Saturday he hit his third home run in seven days, helping the Angels beat Seattle, 4-1, for their fourth victory in five games. The Mariners lost for the first time in six games, before 33,107 in the Kingdome.
Sojo, a 25-year-old Venezuelan, had one homer in 80 at-bats as a rookie last season for the Toronto Blue Jays, and he didn’t have one all this season until last Sunday, when he hit his first against the Oakland Athletics at Anaheim Stadium.
On Thursday, he hit a 396-foot homer against the Minnesota Twins in the Metrodome. And Saturday, he capped the Angels’ victory with his solo homer to left in the fifth inning.
In a week, he had quadrupled his major league home run total.
Chuck Finley (15-6) took advantage of three solo home runs and held the Mariners to a single run on five hits and four walks in seven innings. He also struck out four.
Finley became the second Angel to reach 15 victories, joining Mark Langston, but it was a long time coming. His 12th victory came on July 3, when the Angels were kings of the American League West for a day.
The last-place Angels won for the fourth time in five games, but are 13-26 since July 3. The victory was their fifth in August.
Bryan Harvey, the Angels’ closer, put runners on first and third after two singles in the ninth inning, only to end the game with two strikeouts and a ground ball to short. Harvey, closing in on Donnie Moore’s club record of 31 saves in a season, set in 1985, pitched 1 1/3 innings to earn his 28th save.
Finley has not been the dominant pitcher this season that he was last season, but Saturday was one of those games when he simply got it done. Twice, he put runners on first and second with one out. And twice, the Angels turned inning-ending double plays.
Finley, asked to assess his outing, merely shrugged. “All right,” he said. “Nothing special.”
The Angels took a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning on back-to-back homers by Wally Joyner, his 17th of the season, and Gary Gaetti, his 15th.
All four runs were against starter Rich DeLucia (10-8), who lasted 4 2/3 innings.
The Angels took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Luis Polonia scored from third on Joyner’s groundout to first.
Minutes before, both benches and both bullpens had emptied onto the field near second base, where Polonia and Seattle shortstop Jeff Schaefer had confronted each other after becoming entangled on a pickoff attempt. Instead of fighting, the teams merely milled about and returned to the dugout.
The Mariners tied the score in the first when Harold Reynolds scored from third on Ken Griffey’s single.
Griffey, who entered the game hitting .318 overall with 17 homers, was 0 for 13 against Finley.
In a game with three homers, Sojo’s stood out. He has improved his average from the .220s to .261. Earlier this season, Sojo’s offense was paltry enough to put him in a platoon with Donnie Hill.
“If you’re doing bad, and somebody else is doing better, then somebody else has to play,” said Sojo, now the regular.
Instead of trying to force things to right field, he is turning on inside pitches.
“They just told me I’ve got to learn a little more about the big leagues because I have a chance to play in the big leagues a long time,” Sojo said.