Angels bounce back from tough loss

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Anaheim Angels shook off one of their
toughest losses and most challenging road trips of the season just
like a pennant contender.

Darin Erstad went 5-for-5 and Scott Spiezio hit a three-run
double as the Angels supported right-hander John Lackey with 16
hits to beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7-3 Tuesday night.

''This was a prime time to have an emotional letdown,'' Erstad
said. ''It was a grind of a road trip, we got home late, and it
easily could have been a downer today. But we sucked it up and
Lackey did a great job.''

The Angels did not get home until about 5 a.m. after blowing a
four-run lead in the ninth inning at Boston and losing 10-9 in 10

''These guys got back in here early in the morning and not many
guys had a lot of sleep, but they came out here and played hard,''
manager Mike Scioscia said. ''We left a lot of guys in scoring
position early on, but as the game went on we got some key hits.''

Alex Ochoa and Garret Anderson each drove in two runs and Ben
Weber got four outs for his sixth save, helping the Angels regain
the wild card lead by a half-game over Seattle. Anaheim trails
Oakland by three games in the AL West.

Erstad, hitting .394 over his last 17 games, got five hits for
the second time in his career. He also did it on June 9, 1998 at
Arizona. The only other five-hit game by an Angels batter this
season was by Tim Salmon.

''I didn't hit the ball particularly hard, but sometimes, you
find holes,'' Erstad said. ''There's no explanation. If you have
one, people would like to talk to you tomorrow. You just go up
there and compete and try to get on base every time. And whatever
happens, happens.''

Lackey (6-3) won for the fourth time in five starts, allowing
two runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. The rookie right-hander
was removed after giving up three straight one-out singles,
including a run-scoring hit by Chris Gomez that reduced Anaheim's
lead to 3-2.

''I never really got in a prolonged groove,'' said Lackey, who
was sent home a day early to rest up for his start. ''I kind of
felt good for a couple of hitters, then lose it. I got behind in
the count a couple of times and they were able to sit on the
fastball and hit a couple of balls pretty well. But it was good
enough for tonight, because we needed the win.''

The Angels broke the game open in the seventh after starter
Victor Zambrano (5-6) was forced out of the game because of a
strained left hamstring with two out and the bases loaded.

''I thought I pitched a good game and kept it close,'' Zambrano
said. ''I threw a lot of strikes and got some ground balls. We were
still in it when I left.''

Travis Harper came on and allowed Spiezio's bases-clearing
double over the head of right fielder Ben Grieve, giving the Angels
a 6-2 cushion. All three runs were unearned, the result of rookie
second baseman Felix Escalona's second error of the game.

On his first one, Escalona lost control of Bengie Molina's
fourth-inning grounder as he tried to glove it and tag out Adam
Kennedy in the same motion. That loaded the bases, but Ochoa fouled
out and David Eckstein grounded out.

''He just tried to do too much,'' manager Hal McRae said after
his team fell a franchise-worst 45 games under .500. ''He was
indecisive on which play to make. He tried to make double plays
each time instead of trying to get one out. But he's a good young
infielder and he's going to play tomorrow.''

Zambrano made his fifth career start, allowing six runs -- three
earned -- and 12 hits over 6 2/3 innings and escaping a bases-loaded
jam in the fourth. Catcher John Flaherty helped him out of two
other jams by throwing out Ochoa and Brad Fullmer for the third out
in the second and fifth innings.

Anaheim scored its other runs on a first-inning groundout by
Anderson, and RBI singles by Ochoa in the second and sixth

Game notes
Escalona's errors gave the Devil Rays 101 for the season.
... The Angels began a nine-game stretch in which they will play
the Devil Rays six times. Anaheim has won 16 of the last 20
meetings. ... The Devil Rays are 12-31 in series openers. ... A
players strike would jeopardize Anderson's club-record streak of
six straight seasons with at least 600 at-bats. He needs 73 more.
... During early batting practice, McRae was shagging flies in the
outfield and jammed his left elbow diving for a ball. ... Angels
LHP Dennis Cook, sidelined since July 5 because of a torn labrum in
his shoulder, began a rehab assignment Tuesday with Class-A Rancho