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Gil's homer breaks game open vs. Dodgers

7/1/2002

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Anaheim Angels manager Mike Scioscia
isn't shy about giving his hitters the green light on 3-0 when he
feels the moment warrants itself. Benji Gil seized the moment
Sunday.

Gil, who hasn't drawn a walk all season, leaned into a fastball
from first-time All-Star Odalis Perez and hit a three-run homer
that helped give Anaheim Angels a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers and John Lackey his first career win.

"I was actually hoping I would get the green light,'' Gil said
after his first homer of the season. "As soon as I saw them give
it to me, I just looked for a good pitch to get up in the air.''

Perez admitted he was surprised that Gil was turned loose.

"They're an aggressive team, but it never crossed my mind that
he'd swing on that count,'' Perez said. "He got a pitch to hit and
he hit it out of the ballpark. It surprised me a lot, but that's
part of the game.''

Gil has eight RBI in 63 at-bats since spending the first two
months of the season on the DL with a sprained left ankle. The
Angels utility infielder has yet to draw a walk in 65 plate
appearances. Before this season, he averaged a walk for every 16.05
plate appearances.

"I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing,'' said Scioscia,
who drew 567 walks during his 13-year career. "You can't force
walks. I mean, you can try to be disciplined and patient at the
plate. But a lot of times, the pitcher has to cooperate.''

The Dodgers' third loss in 12 games reduced their NL West lead
to 1½ games over Arizona, and pulled the Anaheim within 3½ games of
Seattle in the AL West.

Lackey (1-1) allowed one run and five hits in six innings,
striking out one, walking three and hitting a batter. It was his
first start since replacing the ineffective Scott Schoeneweis in
the rotation.

Lackey made his big league debut last Monday at Texas, allowing
three runs and six hits over seven innings in the second game of a
twinight doubleheader after being promoted from Triple-A Salt Lake.

Ben Weber pitched three perfect innings for his first career
save.

"That was Weber's first save, and he gave me the ball. That was
pretty cool, and really special,'' Lackey said.

It was the first time Los Angeles has lost on consecutive days
since May 14-15, when Pedro Astacio and Jeff D'Amico of the New
York Mets each beat them with two-hit shutouts at Dodger Stadium.

The Angels salvaged a 3-3 split of the season series, and are
16-16 against the Dodgers since interleague play began in 1997.
Anaheim is 53-51 against the other league, while the Dodgers are
49-43.

Perez, the first left-handed Dodgers starter to make an All-Star
team since Fernando Valenzuela in 1986, allowed five runs and seven
hits in seven innings to end a five-game winning streak.

"Maybe that affected him until he got beat around a little
bit,'' Dodgers pitching coach Jim Colborn said. "I know one time I
was named to an All-Star team and it was hard for me to focus the
next game I pitched.''

Coming off his second one-hitter of the season, Perez (9-4)
retired just two of his first nine batters and fell behind 5-0
after 30 pitches.

"I battled, but I feel bad because I lost the game,'' Perez
said. "The first two innings, I had nothing. Maybe I was tipping
my pitches, I don't know.''

For the second time in two games, two Dodgers collided in the
outfield.

Brian Jordan started in right instead of left and accidentally
kicked second baseman Mark Grudzielanek in the head while catching
David Eckstein's shallow fly. Grudzielanek left the game with a
mild concussion according to assistant trainer Matt Wilson.

"I called for the ball, Grud tried to get out of the way and
just couldn't,'' Jordan said. "I'm looking at the ball. I'm not
looking at him being camped under the ball.''

On Saturday, center fielder Dave Roberts and right fielder Shawn
Green banged into each other, leaving Green with a jammed left
thumb that forced him to miss Sunday's game.

The Dodgers, shut out Saturday, got their only run in the sixth
when Brian Jordan doubled and scored on Grudzielanek's groundout.

Game notes
Garret Anderson, who turned 30 Sunday, was selected to play
in the All-Star Game for the first time. Other Dodgers who made it
were Green and major league save leader Eric Gagne. ... A pregame
moment of silence was observed in memory of Irv Kaze, the Angels'
first publicity director, who died of a heart attack Saturday at
age 75. A small vase of flowers was placed at his regular seat in
the press box. ... The Angels did not get a hit after Jose Nieves'
two-out single in the second.