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Finley Wins Against Old Team


Just as Chuck Finley was about to take the mound against the Angels, the heavens opened up.

"I found it very strange that it was a beautiful day and then it started raining," Finley said. "I thought, `Somebody doesn't want this to happen and is torturing me.' "

Finley beat the team he spent 14 years with, getting his first win since April on Wednesday night as the Cleveland Indians hit five homers in a 7-3 victory over Anaheim.

Finley (4-4), the winningest pitcher in Angels history, thought he might spend his entire career with Anaheim. But he left as a free agent last December, signing a three-year deal with the Indians in hopes of finally getting a World Series ring.

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  • The 37-year-old left-hander allowed two earned runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings to win for the first time in six starts. Finley had lost his last four decisions and was winless since April 29. He walked three and struck eight, including Mo Vaughn three times.

    "It was more interesting looking over at their dugout the last few days than it was pitching against them," Finley said. "Once I threw that first pitch it was pretty much over after that."

    Russell Branyan homered twice in his first game this season and Roberto Alomar, David Justice and Travis Fryman connected for the Indians, who hit three homers in a four-run sixth inning.

    Tim Salmon went 4-for-5 with a homer nd Keith Luuloa had a career-high three hits for Anaheim, which stranded 14 runners. Luuloa was optioned to Triple-A Edmonton after the game.

    Like many of the Angels, Salmon still found it strange to see Finley on the mound for another team.

    "It was weird," Salmon said. "I felt like I had a pretty good scouting report after playing behind him all those years. It was a typical Finley game he teases you and then shuts you down."

    Seth Etherton (0-1), making his second career start, gave up just four hits in five-plus innings but was pulled after giving up Alomar's leadoff homer in the sixth that broke a 2-2 tie.

    Justice hit a two-run shot in the sixth off Mike Holtz and Branyan capped the inning with a solo homer against Al Levine. Fryman's homer in the seventh put the Indians up 7-3.

    "I felt good at the plate tonight and the last couple of weeks in Buffalo," Branyan said. "I've been swinging the bat good and it carried over tonight."

    According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last pitcher to face his former team after at least 14 years of service with that club was Jack Morris. In 1991, Morris lost to Detroit in his first appearance for Minnesota against the Tigers.

    Finley treated the start just like any other. His pregame routine was no different than before any of his club record 379 starts with the Angels or 10 this year with the Indians.

    He played solitaire at a table near his clubhouse locker, and an hour before game time went across the hallway into the fitness room to run on the treadmill and ride a stationary bike.

    "Business as usual," said Indians manager Charlie Manuel.

    Finley had just finished his pregame warmup in the Indians' bullpen when a thunderstorm delayed the start for 57 minutes perhaps a sign from the baseball gods that something was amiss.

    He gave up a one-out bunt single to Luuloa in the first, and retired Vaughn on a foul pop before Salmon hit his 12th homer, a 441-foot shot to left.

    Finley pitched his way out jams in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings when the Angels left three on.

    "He's a fighter, a battler, a great pitcher," Angels catcher Bengie Molina said. "He didn't surprise me. He got me out. He knows exactly how to get out of jams."

    Branyan, recalled Tuesday from Triple-A Buffalo, tied it in the second with his second career homer. And just like last year, he did it in his first at-bat of the season.

    Branyan followed a leadoff walk to Fryman by homering into the right-field seats. In his first at-bat last season, Branyan homered off David Cone at Yankee Stadium.

    After Finley left to a standing ovation in the seventh, it took three relievers to close out the win. a href="http://www.sportsline.com/u/baseball/mlb/players/player_13035.htm" target="external">Steve Karsay got five outs for his 10th save.

    Notes

  • Indians reliever Ricardo Rincon will have surgery on his left elbow and could be out for the season. Rincon, on the DL since May 18, tried to pitch a simulated game on Wednesday but still felt pain in his elbow. Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery at a later date.
  • After the game, the Indians said RF Manny Ramirez will go on the 15-day disabled list Thursday or Friday with a strained left hamstring.
  • Vaughn, who went 1-for-13 in the series, has struck out 18 times in 42 career at-bats against Finley.
  • Of Salmon's 208 career homers, 23 have come against the Indians.

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