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Even When Things Go Wrong, It’s All Right With Hot Angels

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Garret Anderson had a double nullified because he failed to touch first base Wednesday night. Tony Phillips ran through third base coach Rick Burleson’s stop sign and was almost thrown out at third.

Tim Salmon was nearly picked off after a single on a throw from right field to first. Middle infielders Rod Correia and Damion Easley made errors. Catcher Jorge Fabregas allowed a passed ball.

And it all added up to . . . a resounding, 10-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, of course.

That’s how things are going for the first-place Angels, who extended their American League West lead to three games--their largest cushion since May 25--and improved to 45-31, which equals the best start in club history, also achieved by the 1970, ’82 and ’89 Angels.

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“When you put runs up on the board,” Phillips said, “that makes up for a lot of mistakes.”

By no means did the Angels play a shabby game before a paid crowd of 39,139 in the SkyDome. Easley and Correia also turned two double plays, one in the fifth inning with the bases loaded, and starter Russ Springer and four relievers combined to seven-hit a Blue Jay team that had won eight of its last 11 games.

It’s just that the mistakes seemed out of character for a team that has played some of its best baseball of the season during a 6-1 trip that closes with tonight’s game against the Blue Jays.

But none of the miscues were factors, because the Angels, showing no ill-effects from their heartbreaking loss at Cleveland on Tuesday, pounded four Toronto pitchers for 15 hits, including three each by Salmon and Jim Edmonds and two each by J.T. Snow, Fabregas and Correia.

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They scored six runs off starter Juan Guzman in the second after two were out, and designated hitter Chili Davis, hitless in his first eight at-bats since coming off the disabled list Tuesday, chimed in with a two-run home run to left to cap Angel scoring in the ninth.

“That’s a good sign,” Edmonds said. “He’ll need a few games to get his timing back, but he hit the ball hard a few times tonight.”

All the Angels did during Davis’ monthlong absence was average 6.9 runs a game. If Davis returns to his production levels of before his hamstring injury and the rest of the Angels keep hitting. . . .

“It could be a dangerous thing,” Edmonds said. “I’m looking forward to that.”

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Edmonds is 13 for 32 (.406) on the trip with four home runs, 14 runs batted in and 11 runs. Anderson is 12 for 29 (.414) with four homers and 10 RBIs, and Salmon is 11 for 25 (.440) with seven RBIs.

The Angels also tapped a new power source Wednesday in Correia, who started so shortstop Gary DiSarcina could take his first game off in two months. What timing: Correia highlighted the second with a two-run triple to right center and added a single in the sixth.

“You see everyone running around the bases all the time and you want to jump in,” Correia said. “You don’t want to be caught on the side.”

Neither does DiSarcina.

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“I think I’m going to have to hire someone to kidnap Rod and drive him to Montreal so I can get my job back,” DiSarcina joked. “Maybe I’ll lock him in his room.

“But in all seriousness, it’s great to see him play well. To win our division, everyone in a uniform is going to have to contribute. Tonight was a fine example of the way it’s done.”

Springer, the right-hander who replaced the injured Shawn Boskie in the rotation last week, went 5 1/3 innings, giving up two runs and five hits, to earn his first victory of the season.

Left-hander Mark Holzemer, called up from triple-A Vancouver last week; Mike James, Bob Patterson and Mike Butcher, who hadn’t pitched since July 7, combined to shut out Toronto the rest of the way.

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Springer was hit hard in his first three starts of the season, but since returning to the rotation after almost a month in the bullpen, he pitched well against Detroit on Friday (three runs, six hits in 4 2/3 innings) and even better Wednesday night.

“I’ve had enough experience the last few years being up and down, between the major leagues and minors, that I’m not in awe of anything,” the 26-year-old right-hander said. “I have confidence in my ability. It’s time to do what I know I can do here.”


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