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Angels Making Presence Known--at Least in West

TIMES STAFF WRITER

With Mike Piazza going and Gary Sheffield coming and Hideo Nomo going, you can get a little dizzy keeping up with the Dodgers. And, with all those comings and goings in Los Angeles, you can forget to keep up with what’s up in Anaheim.

But the best record in these parts belongs to the boys in periwinkle blue, not the boys in Dodger blue. The Angels extended the longest winning streak in the American League to seven games Saturday, with Omar Olivares and Troy Percival taming the Colorado Rockies on seven hits in a 2-1 victory before 38,671 at Edison Field.

Garret Anderson singled home the winning run in the eighth inning, as the Angels (33-26) defeated Colorado ace Darryl Kile. The Dodgers, for all of their seemingly nightly cast changes, continue to sputter below .500 but continue to command all the attention.

“We’ll always be second to the Dodgers. We have to get into the playoffs and World Series to stop that,” center fielder Jim Edmonds said. “Right now, we have to do whatever we can to get into first place.”

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The Angels trail the Texas Rangers by 3 1/2 games in the American League West, and they stand one game out of the wild-card spot. For the Dodgers, well, the standings don’t reflect the hype.

“Same thing every year,” Percival said. “Until we go out and prove we’re going to fight all the way through the season and into September and October, I don’t know that’s going to change.”

“We fully intend on winning our division. We ain’t looking at the wild card or anything.”

Said Manager Terry Collins: “If we keep playing good and stay in the race, we’ll get all the publicity we need and want.”

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Edmonds, who got his Gold Glove on Saturday night, helped win the game with his bat Saturday night. With the score tied, 1-1, and one out in the eighth inning, Edmonds tripled.

The Rockies walked Tim Salmon intentionally, and Orlando Palmeiro ran for him. Cecil Fielder grounded out, with Edmonds tagged out at home, but Anderson greeted reliever Chuck McElroy with a single that scored Palmeiro with the winning run.

Speed giveth, and a lack of speed taketh away, at least so far as the Angels’ scoring was concerned.

In the first inning, after Darin Erstad and Dave Hollins opened with back-to-back singles, Erstad took third as Edmonds grounded into a double play. Kile’s first pitch to Salmon skipped past catcher Kirt Manwaring--not much past Manwaring, but just enough for the speedy Erstad to race home and slide safely ahead of Manwaring’s throw.

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Salmon cannot perform such a feat, not this year at least, not with a torn foot ligament that restricts his running ability and sends pain shooting through his body with every step. Salmon doubled to start the fourth inning, and he stayed at second base as Fielder grounded out.

Anderson then ripped a single into right field. In any other year, Salmon would have scored easily. This year, with that foot, third base coach Larry Bowa had no choice but to hold Salmon. With two on and one out, Matt Walbeck proceeded to bounce into a double play, ending the inning and stranding Salmon helplessly at third base.

Olivares blanked the Rockies through the first four innings, extending the Angels’ shutout string to 21 innings. In the fifth, Vinny Castilla led off with a double. A wild pitch got him to third and a sacrifice fly got him home, but the Rockies would score no more.

Olivares (3-2), a godsend with the injuries to starters Allen Watson and Jack McDowell, walked one and struck out four in eight innings. Percival retired the side in order in the ninth inning for his 17th save.

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* ANGEL REPORT: C5


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