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Edmonds’ Job Made More Difficult by Erstad

Center fielder Jim Edmonds ranks third among the Angels in runs batted in with 48, but he might be producing more runs if it weren’t for lead-off batter Darin Erstad, who has 17 homers and 57 RBIs.

“He’s driving me crazy with all those RBIs,” said Edmonds, who bats third. “He’s cleaning up before I can get there.”

Erstad, who has emerged as one of baseball’s best young players, has also cornered what little national exposure the Angels have received this year.

Edmonds, meanwhile, is quietly enjoying an outstanding first half with a .308 average and 14 home runs. He’s third in the league in runs with 60, seventh in doubles with 23, and seventh in extra-base hits with 38.

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“I still enjoy being in the limelight--who doesn’t want to be the man on your team?” Edmonds said. “But there’s always going to be a guy who’s having a better year. I don’t mind. It doesn’t matter who’s doing it, as long as we’re doing it together and having fun.”

*

It has been a difficult season for San Francisco first baseman J.T. Snow, the former Angel Gold Glove winner who returns to Anaheim tonight for an interleague series against the Angels.

Snow’s mother, Merry Carole Snow, succumbed to a lengthy battle against cancer earlier this month, and it was obvious his mother’s illness weighed heavily on Snow. He is batting .216 with seven homers and 37 RBIs after hitting .281 with 28 homers and 104 RBIs last season.

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But after missing four games, Snow homered in his first start back against Oakland last Tuesday and pointed both index fingers toward the sky as he crossed the plate. Snow also hit a grand slam and a sacrifice fly in the Giants’ 7-0 win over Texas on Sunday.

“I think about all she’s done for me,” Snow told Bay Area writers after the Oakland game.

” . . . The last couple of months have been tough. But I don’t have to worry anymore about my mother. I know she’s in a good place and is all right. I know she was watching.”

ON DECK

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* Opponent--San Francisco Giants, three games.

* Site--Edison Field.

* Tonight--7 p.m.

* TV--Fox Sports West tonight and Wednesday night, Channel 9 Thursday night.

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* Radio--KRLA (1110), XPRS (1090), KIK-FM (94.3).

* Records--Angels 48-32, Giants 48-35.

* Record vs. Giants--(1997) 1-3.

TONIGHT

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ANGELS’ CHUCK FINLEY (7-4, 2.98 ERA) vs. GIANTS’ SHAWN ESTES (6-6, 4.24 ERA)

* Update--Since opening the season with four victories to increase his consecutive-victory streak to 14, Finley has gone 3-4 with a 3.88 ERA, and the left-hander has been roughed up for 16 earned runs over 24 1/3 innings of his last four starts. The Giants are 7-11 since cleanup batter Jeff Kent went down with a knee injury, but the second baseman isn’t expected to return to the lineup until the All-Star break. Giant left fielder Barry Bonds is hitless in his last 14 at-bats and is hitting only .184 since June 5. The Giants have one of the National League’s best bullpens with closer Robb Nen (1.05 ERA, 23 saves), Steve Reed (1.93 ERA) and Julian Tavarez (2.89 ERA).

* Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.--Steve Sparks (3-0, 3.60) vs. Danny Darwin (6-5, 4.74).

* Thursday, 7 p.m.--Jason Dickson (8-5, 5.72) vs. Kirk Rueter (9-3, 4.34).

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