Dodgers Win With Zeal
Talk about a wild finish.
Dodger third baseman Todd Zeile hit two home runs, including a two-out, ninth-inning shot off reliever Troy Percival, as the Dodgers defeated the Angels, 4-3, in their first regular season meeting Tuesday night before 41,428 at Dodger Stadium.
Zeile hit a 1-and-1 pitch into the left-field bleachers one pitch after Percival gave up the tying run on a wild pitch that enabled Wilton Guerrero to score from second.
“I think he was thinking about the one that got away,” Zeile said of the wild pitch. “This is the only park in either league where a wild pitch scores a run from second.
“I wanted a fastball. I was geared for a fastball and he got one up. I think the wild pitch took the wind out of his sails and shifted the momentum to my side.”
Said Percival: “I broke down on that pitch. I threw him a hard one and he knew it was coming.”
If the first regular season Freeway Series game was any indication, Dodgers-Angels could rival USC-UCLA for excitement.
Guerrero, who hit his second home run of the season in the fifth inning off starter Chuck Finley, stood in the batter’s box after slicing a hit that landed on the left-field line to lead off the ninth. Instead of getting a double, he had to settle for a single.
“I know I made a mistake,” Guerrero said. “When you make a mistake and then you do something good, you feel better. I tied the game. Reggie Smith asked me why didn’t I run and I said I thought the ball was foul.”
After pinch-hitter Brett Butler bunted Guerrero to second, Percival struck out Roger Cedeno.
Percival was one out from getting his sixth save when he bounced a pitch in front of catcher Chad Kreuter that rolled to the backstop.
“He bounced it and Chad couldn’t block it,” Curtis said. “If the ball gets by the catcher, it’s a long way to the backstop.”
Finley, whose awkward slide into third base might wind up on a blooper videotape, registered six strikeouts as the Angels took a 3-1 sixth-inning lead.
Finley, who struck out only one batter in the first five innings, struck out five of six batters after the Dodgers loaded the bases in the sixth on consecutive singles by Zeile, Mike Piazza and Eric Karros.
Finley struck out Raul Mondesi and Billy Ashley and got Greg Gagne to hit into a force play to end the inning.
Finley struck out the side in the seventh, getting Guerrero, pinch-hitter Tripp Cromer and Cedeno.
The Dodgers, who had only one hit in their first eight at-bats with runners on base, left runners at first and second in the eighth inning after Zeile’s first home run.
Piazza and Karros followed Zeile’s homer with singles off Mike James, but Mondesi, trying to bunt for the second time this season, popped back to reliever Pep Harris, who dropped the ball but forced Piazza at third.
Reliever Mike Holtz struck out pinch-hitter Nelson Liriano and Percival struck out Karim Garcia to end the inning.
That set the stage for the Dodgers’ dramatic ninth-inning finish.
The Angels scored three runs against starter Chan Ho Park on Jim Edmonds’ two-out, RBI double in the third inning and Garret Anderson’s two-out two-run double in the sixth.
Edmonds, who had 14 hits in his last 35 at-bats (.400), doubled in Finley, who had reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced on Tony Phillips’ single.
Park, who struck out Phillips and Edmonds to open the sixth, gave up a two-out single to Dave Hollins and a walk to Tim Salmon before Anderson drilled a double off the right-field fence.
* ORIOLES’ DAVIS HAS CANCER: Former Dodger outfielder Eric Davis is expected to make a full recovery, even if he has to sit out the rest of the season after malignant tumor is removed from his colon.
* BASEBALL/ROSS NEWHAN: Scouts who chart both teams on a regular basis say the Angels and Dodgers have never been more evenly matched, although the Dodgers have pitching edge.
* NO RELIEF IN SIGHT: Setup man Mike James gave up a home run and two singles in the eighth inning, then closer Troy Percival got burned on a wild pitch and home run in the ninth.
* DODGERS MAKE ROSTER MOVES: Relief pitcher Darren Dreifort was activated from the disabled list, Chad Fonville was optioned to Albuquerque and Eric Anthony was designated for assignment.