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Angels blast back

Tim Salmon's eighth-inning homer, his second of the night, lifts Anaheim in a wild Game 2.

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 21, 2002

Tim Salmon's eighth-inning homer, his second of the night, lifts Anaheim in a wild Game 2.

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It may not have been a classic example of the Fall Classic, not with the horrible starting pitching, the 28 combined hits, the careless defense and the, um, labored pace. But that didn't make it any less fun -- especially for the Angels.

By the time it ended -- shortly after midnight -- the Angels had scored an 11-10 victory and, more importantly, evened the World Series at a game as the scene shifts up the coast for Game 3 on Tuesday.

Tim Salmon, who had suffered with the Angels longer than any other player, delivered the victory, breaking a tie at 9 with a two-run home run with two outs in the eighth off Felix Rodriguez.

"I knew I got it, I knew the situation, I knew it was big," Salmon said. "You had a feeling it would come down to something like that the way both teams were playing.

"It's something I've been dreaming about doing for a long time, and watching it being done from the couch. It was unbelievable."

Salmon's homer, following a David Eckstein single, capped an eventful night as Salmon reached base five times: a run-scoring single in the first, a two-run homer in the second, a single in the fourth and a walk in the sixth, preceding his game-winner.

World Series heroics can do odd things to a man. Usually stone-faced, Salmon pumped his right fist as he rounded first, then threw both arms in the air when he came out of the dugout for a curtain call to mark the first World Series win in Anaheim history.

"Make the most of it, that's been by motto," Salmon said. "Be loose. Let it fly. Don't go home thinking you left anything out there."

There still was more drama to come, as Barry Bonds launched a massive home run -- conservatively estimated at 485 feet -- high into the rightfield seats with two outs in the ninth, but Angels closer Troy Percival retired Benito Santiago on a pop fly to shallow rightfield for the final out.

"That might have been entertaining to a lot of people, but it wasn't real entertaining to us; it was a real tough ballgame," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Our guys left every drop of energy they had on the field, as did the Giants. It was one of the best games I've ever been involved in."

It was only the third time in Series history a team lost when scoring 10 or more runs, all in the past 10 years, but Giants manager Dusty Baker also was able to appreciate the effort.

"It was back and forth, back and forth," Baker said. "It was one of the best games I've ever been in."

As much as Salmon was the offensive star, Francisco Rodriguez, Anaheim's 20-year-old rookie phenom, deserved nearly equal billing. Coming in to start the sixth after the Giants had scored nine runs on 11 hits, Rodriguez was untouchable, retiring nine straight, striking out four and allowing only one ball to leave the infield.

"That was incredible," Scioscia said. "I think that was the game right there. If we don't get them settled down a little bit, there's not going to be much to come back on. He did a great job."

It was Rodriguez's record-tying fifth victory of the postseason, pretty good for a guy who wasn't called up until mid September and hasn't won a regular-season game. It also made him the youngest pitcher to win a Series game.

"I never got nervous," Rodriguez said.

There were some more oddities to Sunday's events:

-- The Angels didn't strike out, the ninth time that happened in a Series game, the first time since the 1960 Yankees vs. Pittsburgh.

-- Neither starting pitcher, San Francisco's Russ Ortiz and Anaheim's Kevin Appier, retired more than six batters. That hadn't happened since the 1957 New York-Milwaukee Series.

-- The Angels, uncharacteristically unproductive in Saturday's opening loss, came out and scored five in the first inning, the most for an opening inning since the 1979 Orioles scored five in Game 1 against Pittsburgh.

-- Salmon became the 13th player to reach base five times without making an out.

-- Tampa's Chad Zerbe made a four-inning relief appearance for the Giants, longest since Sid Fernandez in 1986 for the Mets.

-- Bonds tied a record with his sixth homer of the postseason, and the Angels set one with 21.

After the Angels took the 5-0 lead, the Giants got right back in the game with a four-run second keyed by a three-run homer by Reggie Sanders. The Angels extended the lead to 7-4, but the Giants kept swinging and took a 9-7 lead. The Angels scored once in the fifth and again in the sixth to tie it.

"This club is just amazing," Salmon said. "It's a 25-man effort every night, new heroes every night."

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