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Seventh heaven

Anaheim rallies again, this time from a 5-0 deficit against the San Francisco bullpen to force Game 7.

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published October 27, 2002

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Angels might like you to be believe they had the Giants right where they wanted them Saturday night, spotting them a five-run lead they carried into the seventh.

But you'd better believe they like where they have them tonight, in Game 7 of the World Series at electric Edison Field.

The Angels forced the decisive game with another of their remarkable comebacks Saturday, rallying from the five-run deficit for an absolutely thrilling 6-5 victory.

It was the largest comeback in Series history by a team facing elimination.

Scott Spiezio's three-run homer in the seventh got the Angels back into the game, Darin Erstad's home run to open the eighth got them closer and Troy Glaus' two-run double off San Francisco ace Robb Nen got them the victory. Troy Percival took care of the save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

"I thought if we could get some hits strung together, we were going to get back in the game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I just didn't know it was going to happen as quickly as it did.

"But it was great to see."

Tonight's finale, based on the four one-run games played and the determination shown thus far, has promise to be, too. The Giants will send postseason maestro Livan Hernandez to the mound against Anaheim rookie John Lackey.

"It was a great ballgame," Scioscia said. "I think when you have two teams that have such a passion to strive for something, as any two teams in the World Series would but particularly our club and the Giants, we're both going after it hard.

"I think when you have two teams like that, there's always special things that can happen. Tonight was one of them."

Saturday, the Giants quieted the electric Edison Field crowd of 44,506 with their own thunder sticks, getting home runs from Shawon Dunston and Barry Bonds.

"There was a lot of confidence, but we knew the game wasn't over," Giants manager Dusty Baker said. "They definitely proved the game wasn't over."

The story going into Game 6 was the pitching and how bad it had been, especially by the starters, who had a combined ERA of 8.93 after a week of abbreviated and abysmal outings.

So naturally, the story Saturday -- in the early part of the game, anyway -- was the pitching and how good it was, as San Francisco's Russ Ortiz and Anaheim's Kevin Appier each started with four shutout innings.

Things changed quickly in the fifth.

David Bell reached on an infield single and No. 9 hitter Dunston, the 18-year veteran playing in his first World Series as a DH, knocked it over the leftfield wall.

Kenny Lofton followed with a double deep to center, ending Appier's night, then stole third and scored when 20-year-old rookie Francisco Rodriguez bounced a two-out, two-strike pitch to Jeff Kent and catcher Bengie Molina couldn't (or, more precisely, didn't) block it.

The 3-0 lead was good. With one swing, Bonds made it better, launching an 0-and-1 pitch from Rodriguez into the rightfield seats. It was Bonds' fourth homer of the Series, one shy of Reggie Jackson's 1977 record, and his eighth of the postseason, extending a record he shared with Glaus. It also was the Giants' 14th home run of the Series, extending a team record they shared with the 1956 Yankees at the start of the night.

The Giants extended the lead to 5-0 in the seventh. Lofton singled with one out, stole second and went to third on Molina's throwing error, then scored on a two-out single by Kent.

Then the Angels did what they usually do: they came back. With the crowd in a frenzy over an appearance by the Rally Monkey, the Angels, as they did so often during a magical 99-win season and playoff upsets of the Yankees and Twins, responded. It was the fifth time in Series history a team came back from five or more runs to win.

Glaus and Brad Fullmer singled with one out in the seventh, ending Ortiz's night. Spiezio, who has been the Angels' most productive postseason hitter, delivered again.

Spiezio battled reliever Felix Rodriguez to a full count, fouling off two two-strike pitches, then got enough to knock the ball just over the rightfield fence, cutting the lead to 5-3. That gave Spiezio 19 RBIs for the postseason, tying the record held by Sandy Alomar Jr.

"I didn't know it was gone," Spiezio said, who spent countless hours as a kid playing with his dad, former major-leaguer Ed Spiezio, pretending he was batting in the seventh game of the Series. "I was praying. I saying, "God, please, get it over the fence.' It seemed like it took forever."

Erstad brought the monkey back out, and the crowd back to its feet, by leading off the eighth with a home run to right.

Tim Salmon followed with a single, and Garret Anderson followed with a bloop single into short left. Pinch-runner Chone Figgins, the Brandon High product, raced to third.

"The three-run homer got them back in the ballgame, then they start off the next inning and get that bloop (single) by Anderson in there," Baker said. "It comes down to facing Glaus in that situation, which you're not crazy about, but you know that Glaus is prone to strike out."

The Giants brought in Nen, their usually reliable closer, but there wasn't going to be any strikeout. Glaus greeted Nen with a bang, blasting a double into the left-centerfield gap.

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