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Griffey Hits 22nd But Angels Win


The AL West race is taking on a strange look. The Anaheim Angels are streaking and the Seattle Mariners' season-long funk doesn't show any evidence of ending.

"It was just a tremendous road trip," Anaheim manager Terry Collins said after the Angels won their fifth straight game, 6-2 over the Mariners on Thursday night.

Darin Erstad and Gary DiSarcina homered as Anaheim completed a 6-1 road trip and moved within 3½ games of first-place Texas in the AL West.

"We went on the trip on a sour note after losing four in a row at home," Collins said. "The guys just rallied around each other on the first day in Minnesota and got us going."

Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 22nd homer of the season, moving ahead of teammate Alex Rodriguez for the AL lead. It was Griffey's third homer in three games.

The Mariners lost their fourth straight and fell seven games under .500 (26-33) for the second time this season.

Asked if the zip was missing from his team, Mariners manager Lou Piniella replied tersely, "I think zip comes with winning."

When the Mariners won the AL West for the second time in three years last season, they were 20-7 in June. This June, they're 0-4.

Griffey hit a two-run homer off Ken Hill (8-4) in the first inning after Rodriguez was hit by a pitch.

"I gave up the home run in the first inning, but then I stayed focused," Hill said. "After that, I pretty much kept them off balance."

The Angels, awaiting suspensions from AL president Gene Budig after two brawls in Kansas City on Tuesday night, made it 2-1 in the third when Erstad hit a leadoff homer off Ken Cloude (3-4).

Anaheim took a 3-2 lead in the fourth when Matt Walbeck doubled, Orlando Palmeiro tripled and Justin Baughman followed with a suicide squeeze.

Baughman's execution against a drawn-in Mariners' infield was the key to the game, Collins said.

"When it works, those are smart," Collins said. ``I just think against the Mariners you've got to score every run you possibly can."

"Baughman handles the bat well," Hill said. ``That was a big play."

Cloude blamed himself for delivering a pitch down the middle of the plate. He was trying to put the pitch on the outside of the plate.

"I saw the guy square to bunt," he said. ``It's one of those things. You've let the ball go and you want to grab it back before it gets to the plate because you know what's going to happen."

DiSarcina led off the seventh with his second homer of the season, and added an RBI single in the eighth.

Hill went seven innings to become the AL's fourth eight-game winner. He gave up two runs and five hits, struck out five and walked two.

Shigetoshi Hasegawa pitched the last two innings for his first major-league save. He struck ou four, including Edgar Martinez and Dan Wilson to help him get out of a jam in the eighth.

"Oh, that's very nice," said the 28-year-old pitcher from Japan. ``In Japan, we don't have any closers. But we have a big closer (Troy Percival) right here with a fastball. That's why I never thought about that."

Cloude lost his third consecutive decision, allowing four runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Garret Anderson had an RBI single for the Angels in the ninth.

Notes

  • Griffey's homer was the 316th of his career, tying him with Ron Cey and Darryl Strawberry for 69th on the all-time list.
  • Hill hit Rodriguez in the left hand with an inside pitch in the first.
  • The Angels' five-game winning streak is one shy of their season-high, from April 22-28.
  • The Mariners had two stolen bases and now have 35 steals in 46 attempts. Their 11 caught stealing are the fewest in the majors this season.
  • Tampa Bay's Rolando Arrojo, New York's David Wells and Aaron Sele of Texas are the AL's other eight-game winners.
  • The Mariners didn't commit an error after making two errors in each of their last four games.

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