Series: Game 3 of 3

Minnesota won 2-1

Game 1: Friday, May 24
Minnesota 5Final
Anaheim 1
Game 2: Saturday, May 25
Minnesota 3Final
in 13
Anaheim 4
Game 3: Sunday, May 26
Minnesota 5Final
Anaheim 2

Twins 5

(28-22, 11-15 away)

Angels 2

(28-19, 15-12 home)

4:05 PM ET, May 26, 2002

Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, California 

123456789 R H E
MIN 010011011 5 - -
ANA 010001000 2 - -

W: E. Milton (7-3)

L: K. Appier (5-2)

S: E. Guardado (15)

Anaheim loses for only fifth time in 27 games

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 defense.''

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 up.''

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 a win.''

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 3-2.

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.

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 straight time.

David Ortiz added a sacrifice fly for the Twins in the ninth.

Eddie Guardado, coming off his second straight blown save, got three outs for his 15th save to help put the Twins back in a first-place tie with the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.

"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 better.''

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.''

Game notes

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press