All things considered, the Anaheim Angels were glad Carlos Almanzar made it over the fence.
Called into Sunday's game to start the seventh inning with Toronto ahead by a run, Almanzar couldn't get the bullpen gate to open. After a few minutes of trying, he simply climbed the fence onto the field.
A few minutes later, Randy Velarde was tripling for two runs to give the Angels a 3-2 comeback victory.
"After I swung and missed the first pitch, I thought about getting the ball in play in the big part of the park," said Velarde, meaning dead center, where Jose Cruz Jr. was playing shallow. "I was fortunate to get a split-fingered fastball over the plate that I could drive. It scored a couple of big runs for us."
Maybe the two biggest runs of the season for the AL West-leading Angels, who concluded a 5-2 homestand.
"It was a pivotal game for us to win, because we're going out to the East Coast. We knew we had to win as many as we could on this homestand, for the momentum," said Chuck Finley (10-6), who went 7 2-3 innings for only his second win in his last 13 home starts.
Finley gave up six hits, walked one and struck out seven, and was rewarded by the Angels' rally.
"Wins have been tough for me this year," he said. "Most games like this, I'd either get a no-decision or a loss."
Almanzar (1-1), coming on after Woody Williams had held Anaheim to a run and two hits through six innings, gave up a leadoff single to Matt Walbeck. Paco Martin bunted, and first basemaCarlos Delgado tried to force Walbeck at second, but his throw skipped into center field as the runners advanced.
"I got rid of it too quick, and didn't have a good grip," said Delgado. "I didn't realize I had that much time. I had time to get a better grip on the ball."
Velarde followed with his one-out shot over Cruz's head.
Troy Percival ended the eighth with men on second and third by striking out Jose Canseco. In the ninth, Juan Samuel, pinch-running for Delgado as the tying run with one out, was thrown out by Walbeck. Percival picked up his 35th save.
Toronto's Alex Gonzalez snapped a 1-1 tie in the fifth when he bounced a ground-rule double over the fence in straightaway center to score Tony Fernandez.
The Blue Jays took a 1-0 lead in the second when Cruz doubled -- extending his hitting streak to 17 games -- and scored on Mark Dalesandro's single.
Walbeck's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning tied it at 1.
Williams held the Angels to two hits and a run through six innings. He is winless in six starts since July 19.
"Other than the plate moving around on me a bit, I thought it was all positive," said Williams, whose five walks matched a season high. "I'll take my chances if I can pitch like that every time out."
© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved