ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- This one wasn't easy for Eric Milton.
The Minnesota Twins left-hander fought through a tight back
muscle and improved to 5-0 in seven starts against the Anaheim
Angels with six strong innings in a 5-2 victory Sunday.
The Twins took two of three from the Angels, who had won eight
straight series and 21 of 24 games.
"This series was a war,'' said Milton (7-3). "They're playing
good ball, we're playing good ball, and it was three real close
games. The bullpen did an unbelievable job today, along with the
Milton allowed two runs -- one earned -- and six hits in six
innings against the Angels, who he threw a no-hitter against in
1999. Anaheim is the only AL team that has never defeated him.
"We just really didn't seem to get anything going against
him,'' said Tim Salmon, who beat the Twins on Saturday night with a
homer in the 13th inning. "I guess he hasn't been pitching well
with men on base, but we really never got in those situations
against him today. We took good swings, but we just popped them
Milton said he kept his mind off his back.
"It's just a knot in the muscle,'' he said. "When I extend, I
can feel it. But it was the last thing on my mind out there. It
doesn't really affect the way I throw the ball. I did what I wanted
to do, kept them off-balance and was able to get out of there with
Jacque Jones drew a one-out walk in the fifth from Kevin Appier
(5-2), advanced to third on a broken-bat single by Cristian Guzman
and scored on sacrifice fly by Doug Mientkiewicz for a 2-1 lead the
Twins never relinquished.
Bobby Kielty, who was 3-for-3, singled with two outs in the
Twins sixth and scored from second when second baseman Jose Nieves
made a diving stop on Denny Hocking's single and made an errant
flip past to shortstop Alfredo Amezaga.
Garret Anderson homered inside the right-field pole in the
bottom of the sixth against Milton, trimming Anaheim's deficit to
Scott Spiezio greeted reliever Mike Jackson with a leadoff
double in the Angels seventh and advanced on Nieves' sacrifice
bunt. When J.C. Romero came in to face pinch-hitter Orlando
Palmeiro, Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia countered with David
Eckstein, who didn't start for the fifth straight game because
of a strained left knee, hit a grounder to short and Spiezio was
cut down at the plate by Guzman. Adam Kennedy ran for Eckstein and
stole second, but rookie Julio Ramirez struck out for the third
David Ortiz added a sacrifice fly for the Twins in the ninth.
"Obviously, we know they're a good team and they're hot right
now, so we had to be on top of our game,'' Guardado said. "And to
come in here and take two out of three, you can't ask for anything
Minnesota took a 1-0 lead in the second on A.J. Pierzynski's
single. The Angels tied it in the bottom half with an unearned run.
Gold Glove center fielder Torii Hunter committed his first error
in 49 starts this season, after his diving attempt on Nieves'
second-inning single was correctly ruled a trap. As Hunter held up
his glove to show umpire Andy Fletcher, the ball squirted away and
Nieves took an extra base.
Appier lost for the first time since April 9 after winning five
straight decisions over seven starts.
"I didn't feel I threw that badly, but I couldn't shut them
down as far as getting a strikeout in key situations was
concerned,'' Appier said. "Overall, it just wasn't our day. It was
kind of ugly.''
Pierzynski, the Twins' catcher, threw out Salmon at second
on the back end of an attempted double steal to end the eighth. ...
Guzman, who entered 0-for-8 lifetime against Appier, ended the
drought with a bunt single in the first. ... Twins RHP Mike
Trombley has not pitched since May 18, the day after he surrendered
a game-winning grand slam by Jason Giambi in the 14th inning of a
13-12 loss at Yankee Stadium.