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Collins Returns, Angels Rally To Win

Just back from an eight-game suspension, Anaheim manager Terry Collins was worried that he was headed for a self-imposed exile.

But the Angels made sure Collins wouldn't think he was a jinx, coming from behind to beat Seattle 4-2 Wednesday night.

During his suspension, imposed by the American League in the wake of the Angels' brawl with the Royals in Kansas City, Anaheim went 6-2 and moved atop the AL West.

"I was thinking (when the Angels were down 2-1), that it was great to be back on the bench, but I hope we win this game. If we don't, I might watch tomorrow's game in a hotel room," Collins said with a smile.

"They've been playing their hearts out, I know. This was a big game for me to win."

Darin Erstad's two-run homer in the seventh brought Anaheim from behind, and Omar Olivares pitched eight strong innings as the Angels moved 1 ½ games ahead of Texas by winning for the 15th time in their last 17 games.

Olivares (5-2), impressive since moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation on May 1, gave up two runs and four hits.

"I've said that if somebody comes along and surprises you, you can become a good team," Collins said. "And Omar has been our guy. He's been absolutely wonderful."

Olivares said he's been able to get himself in a good routine since moving from the bullpen.

"You build up your confidence," he said. "Now everybody's going well here and it's contagious, pitcher to pitcher and to position players."

Erstad's 16th homer matched his 1997 total and put the Angels up by a run against Jeff Fassero (5-4). Anaheim added another run in the seventh on Tim Salmon's sacrifice fly.

"I hit a slider that got up on him," Erstad said. "I guarantee that's not where he wanted to throw the ball."

Troy Percival pitched the ninth for his AL-leading 22nd save.

The Mariners have lost nine of 11 to fall 13 games behind the Angels, the furthest they've been out of first since Aug. 2, 1995.

"We're struggling right now and it's a battle,," Fassero said. "Nothing's going right for us and we can't get any breaks at all."

Erstad, the leadoff man who is leading Anaheim in homers and RBIs (46), put the Angels ahead after Justin Baughman led off with a single and went to second on Gary DiSarcina's sacrifice.

Erstad followed with his shot into the right-field seats.

The Mariners went ahead 2-1 when Dan Wilson led off the fifth inning with is fourth homer, his first since May 6. Seattle's other run came in the third inning on an RBI single by Alex Rodriguez.

Salmon gave Anaheim a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first inning.

Fassero gave up four runs and nine hits in seven-plus innings.

Notes: Fassero hd won his last five decisions following a Mariners' loss, including 3-0 this year before the Angels beat him. ... Wilson's homer was his first in a span of 108 at-bats. ... The Angels lead the division despite having three of their starting pitchers Ken Hill, Jack McDowell and Allen Watson on the disabled list. Second baseman Randy Velarde and catcher Todd Greene, who figured to be in the starting lineup, are also on the DL, as is reliever Mike James. ... Anaheim's faring better with Olivares in the rotation than they were with him in the bullpen. The Angels were 1-6 when he pitched as a reliever.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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