The way pitcher Chuck Finley started Saturday night's game against the New York Yankees, there was some question about who would last longer--the Angel left-hander or heavyweight fighter Peter McNeeley.
Finley looked ragged in the first two innings, giving up three runs on four hits--all doubles. But he rebounded like a true champion, blanking the Yankees over the next six innings to lead the Angels to a 5-3 victory in front of an announced crowd of 41,453 in Anaheim Stadium.
Spike Owen lined a pinch-hit, two-run single to right field with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to snap a 3-3 tie, the Angels snapped what had equaled their longest losing streak of the season at three games, and they maintained their 9 1/2-game lead in the American League West over Texas.
Closer Lee Smith relieved Finley with a runner on first and no outs in the top of the ninth, and left fielder Garret Anderson made a game-saving, leaping grab of pinch-hitter Darryl Strawberry's drive at the top of the wall for the first out.
Smith then struck out pinch-hitter Wade Boggs and, with the crowd on its feet, struck out pinch-hitter Don Mattingly to end the game with his 30th save.
Tim Salmon and Chili Davis both walked off Yankee starter David Cone to start the winning rally in the seventh, and Salmon was forced at third on J.T. Snow's sacrifice bunt attempt.
Reliever Steve Howe got Anderson to ground to third, both runners advancing, but Owen slapped a 2-2 pitch to right to score Davis and Snow for the lead. Owen is now 10 for 19 with 12 runs batted in as a pinch hitter this season.
The Angels trailed, 3-2, but scored a controversial run in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game.
With runners on first and second and two out, Tony Phillips, who had struck out in three previous at-bats, lined a ball to center. Yankee outfielder Bernie Williams hesitated, then made what appeared to be a lunging grab just above the grass.
But second base umpire Al Clark, still on the infield grass, did not make an initial call, instead looking to third-base ump Larry Barnett for help.
When Barnett came up blank, Clark ruled the ball a hit, bringing Damion Easley home with the tying run and Yankee Manager Buck Showalter out of the dugout.
Super slow-motion replays showed Clark probably made the right call--Williams appeared to short-hop the ball--but the indecision reflected poorly on the umpire.
Finley (12-8), who had struck out a combined 23 Yankees in two previous victories, allowed seven hits and struck out nine Saturday but was hardly dominating early.
The Yankees jumped all over him in the first inning, as Bernie Williams led off with a double to right, Ruben Sierra drew a two-out walk and Mike Stanley knocked a 3-2 pitch into the left-center field gap for a two-run double.
But the Angels came right back in the bottom of the first against Cone, the third Cy Young Award winner the Angels have faced in the last three nights, following Boston's Roger Clemens and New York's Jack McDowell.
Jim Edmonds walked with one out and advanced to third on Tim Salmon's single to right-center. Chili Davis lined a single to right, career hit No. 1,900 for the 13-year veteran, to knock in a run, and Anderson doubled down the right-field line to tie the game, 2-2.
New York took a 3-2 lead in the top of the second on two-out doubles by Pat Kelly and Bernie Williams.
The Angels received some good news Saturday afternoon when Edmonds arrived at the park in good health and was immediately penciled into the starting lineup.
The center fielder sat out Friday night's game because of a strained left lower back, an injury incurred when he crashed into the wall after catching a fly ball against Boston Thursday night.
"I feel almost 100%," said Edmonds, the American League's RBI leader entering the game. "I took a good jolt, and it's kind of like a bruise or a sprain--it's not just going to go away."
Edmonds appears to have overcome any mental hurdles involved with the injury. He made a long run and diving catch of Russ Davis' fly ball to shallow left-center field in the second inning Saturday night and, though he got up a bit slowly, didn't seem to feel any ill effects.
"I hope I hit the wall again tonight--I'm not going to be tentative," Edmonds said. "That's how I play the game."