ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Anaheim Angels had trouble believing
this was the same Justin Miller they faced more than three months
ago, when he hit three batters and gave up three consecutive home
"I've got to credit Gregg Zaun for that," Miller said of his
catcher. "He's the one out there calling signs. I think I shook
him off once or twice the whole game. So Zaun was definitely the
one keeping them off-balance, and the defense played great behind
Anaheim remained 1˝ games behind AL West-leading Oakland, which
lost to Boston. The Angels haven't led the division outright since
June 7 and trailed by six games on July 21.
"That was a tough loss for us," Jose Guillen said. "This was
a game that was going to put us closer, and we had extra motivation
watching Oakland losing to Boston. But I think people in our dugout
was watching what Oakland and Boston were doing and not worrying
about ourselves and what was going on here."
Miller (3-3) retired his first 11 batters before Vladimir
Guerrero lined a single to right with two outs in the fourth.
Anaheim's other hit was a one-out single in the eighth by Adam
"He did a great job of mixing it up and commanding the zone,"
Angels leadoff hitter David Eckstein said. "He was changing speeds
on his slider, throwing some harder and some softer and never being
consistent with the same thing. And then when you look for that,
he's throwing the fastball with good location."
Miller struck out three and walked one in the longest of his 123
career starts. Interim manager John Gibbons removed the
right-hander after 94 pitches, and Justin Speier pitched a perfect
ninth for his fourth save.
"I definitely felt like I could finish, but that's the
manager's decision, and he made a good decision," Miller said.
"Speier came in and did a job. That's exactly what we needed done
The Blue Jays also needed to see some dramatic improvement from
Miller, who had been 1-2 with a 7.86 ERA since coming off the
disabled list on Aug. 4.
"Tonight was a great night for him, and hopefully he'll build
off of this and finish strong," Toronto third baseman Eric Hinske
said. "It was one of those nights where everything went his way.
He did a great job, and so did Escobar. It was a good pitcher's
duel, and it's too bad one of those guys had to lose."
Escobar (9-10) allowed a run and five hits in eight innings and
set a career high with 12 strikeouts, pushing his season total to a
career-best 162. The former Blue Jays right-hander has fanned 21
batters over 13 1-3 innings in his two starts against Toronto.
"He was locating his fastball and his cutter very well and
throwing a good changeup and curveball," Angels catcher Bengie
Molina said. "I'm frustrated because we didn't give him the runs.
I feel so bad for him. He's our most consistent pitcher and he's
our number one. He's been that all year."
The Angels got a runner to third base in the fifth when Troy
Glaus drew a leadoff walk, stole second and took third on a wild
pitch. But Molina stranded him with a groundout.
"The way Kelvin went out there and pitched, you definitely need
to find a way to get a win for him," Eckstein said.
The only run against Escobar came on a pair of unconventional
doubles in the first inning. Orlando Hudson's hit deflected off the
glove of second baseman Kennedy and into short right field as
Kennedy tried to make a diving stop in the hole. Carlos Delgado's
hit came on a routine fly to right that Guerrero lost in the
twilight with two outs.
"You don't expect one play to beat you, especially that early
in the game," manager Mike Scioscia said.
Anaheim third baseman Chone Figgins combined with first baseman
Darin Erstad on a rare 5-3-5 double play in the third. After Vernon
Wells grounded out to Figgins behind the bag, Erstad threw a
perfect strike back to Figgins and Hudson was tagged out trying to
advance two bases.
Wells ran over Escobar midway between home plate and first
base as Escobar let Wells' slow bouncer go foul in the first
inning. ... The Blue Jays, who were mathematically eliminated from
playoff contention with Tuesday night's 5-2 loss, haven't played a
postseason game since winning the 1993 World Series on Joe Carter's
walkoff three-run homer against Philadelphia's Mitch Williams.