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Angels Pull Out 7-6 Victory but May Lose Salmon

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Terry Collins woke up with a smile on his face Wednesday morning.

Sure, his team had lost five of the last seven while hitting a puny .233. And maybe he couldn’t even remember the last time an Angel came through with a clutch hit. But Chuck Finley was pitching and Finley has been the panacea for all that ails the Angels so far this season.

It’s not likely the Angel manager put on happy face with his pajamas Wednesday night, even after his team rallied from a four-run deficit to beat Baltimore, 7-6, in front of 22,739 at Edison Field.

Tears on the pillow is a far more likely scenario. And it had nothing to do with the fact that Finley gave up more runs in the first inning than he had in any game this season or that he allowed 10 hits and five runs in 6 1/3 innings.

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The really bad news came in the third inning when Tim Salmon, who hit his club-leading seventh home run in the first, had to leave the game because of a strained ligament in his left foot. Salmon, who has been silently suffering from painful inflammation in the arch of his foot for two weeks, will undergo an MRI test today and will not accompany the Angels on their flight to Florida.

“If we’re going to win, we have to have Tim Salmon in the lineup,” Collins said. “If he’s down three, four, five days, that’s one thing. If we miss him for two to three weeks, we can’t replace him very easily.”

Collins was planning to give Salmon a day off Saturday and use him as a designated hitter on Sunday to give the foot some rest, but the schedule to give his star right-fielder time off was moved up in a hurry after Salmon’s first-inning homer.

“I was running hard because I thought it was an extra-base hit,” said Salmon, who was on crutches in the Angel clubhouse, “but when I hit the first-base bag, something definitely grabbed, the pain level went way up and I knew something was wrong.

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“I went out and tried to play in the field for a while, but I couldn’t even stand on it.”

The Angels might have managed to temporarily take Collins’ mind off the loss of Salmon--something the struggling Angels can ill afford for even for a brief time right now--with a stirring come-from-behind victory.

Trailing, 5-4, Matt Walbeck led off the eighth with a single to center and, after Paco Martin sacrificed, Gary DiSarcina lined a shot to right. Baltimore right-fielder Joe Carter overran the ball, slipped when he tried to stop and DiSarcina ended up with a game-tying triple.

Oriole Manager Ray Miller brought in veteran left-handed reliever Jesse Orosco, who was greeted by Darin Erstad’s two-run shot into the right-field seats.

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“I lost it when it got up in the lights,” said Erstad, who wasn’t sure the ball would clear the scoreboard. “I got to second base and [umpire Ed] Hickox said, ‘Do you want it or not?’ So I went on home.”

As it turned out, the Angels needed the run. Closer Troy Percival walked the first two batters he faced in the ninth and gave up an RBI single to Harold Baines, a hard grounder to the hole that might have tied the game if DiSarcina hadn’t made a diving stop. Percival got Lenny Webster to fly out and struck out Jeffrey Hammonds to earn his fourth save.

Before the game, Collins was saying how the whole team is in a good mood the day Finley is scheduled to pitch because “you just relax so much more.” The first three innings proved rather stressful, however, as Salmon went out and the Orioles built a 5-1 lead.

Baltimore scored twice in the first and then No. 9 hitter Mike Bordick--a guy with a batting average in the .170s and three previous RBIs on the year--hit a ball over the left-field fence in the second to end Finley’s string of 33 2/3 innings without yielding a homer. The Orioles added two more in the third on a walk and run-scoring doubles by Webster and Hammonds.

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“You wish every time you went out it would be like the last time,” said Finley, who pitched a complete-game shut out against Tampa Bay Friday night.

“It was one of those nights where I just had to hang in there.

“When they got three, I tried to hold them to that. When they got five, I said to myself, ‘You better put some zeros up there to give us the chance to come back.”


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