Angels beat Seattle, reduce lead to two

The Associated Press

SEATTLE The California Angels didn't want the Seattle Mariners to clinch a tie for the AL West at their expense.

''We didn't want to give them a chance to celebrate in front of us,'' manager Marcel Lachemann said after California kept the division race close with a 2-0 victory over Seattle on Wednesday night. ''The guys didn't want that to happen and they didn't let it happen.''

Chuck Finley (14-12) was the Angels' hero, allowing only three hits in 61/3 innings before a screaming crowd of 50,212.

''That's the loudest I've ever seen it in the Kingdome,'' Finley said. ''I felt like I was in the end zone out there. It was actually echoing in my ears.''

Trying desperately to regain their momentum with time running out, the Angels cut Seattle's lead in the division to two games with four to go. The Angels stayed 11/2 games behind the New York Yankees in the wild-card race.

A victory by Seattle would have clinched a tie for the division title, but instead the Mariners had their seven-game overall and nine-game home winning streaks snapped.

''Tonight our bats took a little day off,'' Seattle manager Lou Piniella said. ''Not because we didn't swing them well. Finley pitched very well. He moved the ball around, changed speeds and made the pitches when he had to.''

The Mariners still like their chances of winning their first division crown.

''We're still hot,'' Seattle's Mike Blowers said. ''Any time you win seven of eight at home, you have to feel pretty good about that. We lost, but we still feel good about our situation.''

Finley, pitching on three days' rest because Mark Langston has bicep tendinitis in his left arm, ended a personal four-game losing streak with his first win since Aug. 24. He walked five and struck out four.

Finley focused on the Mariners, not the division race.

''I knew we needed a good win, but I really didn't go out there with the thought the whole organization was riding on my back,'' he said. ''I really didn't need to do that. I didn't want to overestimate the value of the game. All I thought about was pitching.''

Finley was taken out after walking Blowers and Rich Amaral with one out in the seventh. Troy Percival struck out pinch-hitter Doug Strange and Vince Coleman to end Seattle's seventh-inning threat.

Lee Smith pitched the ninth for his 35th save, finishing just the second shutout of Seattle this year.

California won for only the second time in an eight-game road trip and just the 10th time in 37 games.

''Seattle is a very good team,'' Lachemann said. ''But we can't worry about them. We've made our bed and we've got to lay in it.''

The Angels scored both of their runs in the opening inning against Tim Belcher (10-11). Phillips walked and moved to second on Gary DiSarcina's groundout. He scored on Tim Salmon's bloop single to right that a sliding Jay Buhner barely missed. Salmon scored from first on Chili Davis' double that went off first baseman Tino Martinez's glove.

Belcher pitched almost as well as Finley, allowing two runs on five hits and three walks with two strikeouts in eight innings.

The Angels end their season at home with a four-game series beginning Thursday against Oakland, which has beaten California seven out of nine times this year. The Mariners wind up with four at Texas, a team they're 8-1 against in '95.

Notes: Phillips had two walks to give him 108 for the season, an Angels record. The old mark was 106 by Brian Downing in 1987. Phillips had a career-high 132 walks with Detroit in 1993. ... Davis had two doubles, giving him 201 for his career. ... Finley improved his career record against Seattle to 13-6, including 1-2 this year. ... California finished with a 7-5 record against the Mariners in 1995. ... The Mariners drew 1,588,636 fans for 72 home games this year, an average of 22,065. They averaged 25,096 for 44 home dates in the strike-shortened '94 season. ... Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle's five-time Gold Glove center fielder, committed his second error of the season when he dropped Greg Myers' sinking line drive in the seventh inning.

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