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Heaven can't wait

Angels defeat Giants for first World Series championship

Posted: Sunday October 27, 2002 10:36 PM
Updated: Monday October 28, 2002 8:53 AM
  Anaheim Angels From left: Scott Spiezio, Bengie Molina, Troy Percival and Troy Glaus get the party started. AP

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Darin Erstad caught the fly ball for the final out of Game 7, and the mayhem began.

The Anaheim Angels whooped it up like Little Leaguers, celebrating their first World Series championship with hugs, slaps and unabashed joy.

Watching it all from a dark corner of the Giants' dugout was the best hitter in the world. Barry Bonds knew this moment could have been his.

"You want the results to be different," the San Francisco star said. "They outplayed us, they deserve it. They beat us. They're world champions."

Improbable ones, at that.

Behind rookie starter John Lackey and a big hit by Garret Anderson, the Angels pulled it off, beating the Giants 4-1 Sunday night to finally win the crown after 42 years.

And they even did it without much help from their Rally Monkey.

"These fans have been waiting a long, long time for this," MVP Troy Glaus said. "And I know we're all happy to be part of the team to bring it to them."

A day after it blew a 5-0 lead in the seventh inning, San Francisco never got close to winning its first title.

"The turning point was basically they came back [Saturday night]," Giants manager Dusty Baker said.

His 3-year-old bat boy son, Darren, took it hard. He wailed as his dad carried him from the dugout.

Bonds closed out one of the most dominant overall Series performances ever, yet it wasn't enough. He went 8-for-17 (.471) with four homers and a .700 on-base percentage.

After watching the Angels party, Bonds walked down the dugout and picked up his glove. He walked back, tapped his son on the back and walked down the runway.

"I went 1-for-3 with a walk, that's a good day. Am I supposed to go 3-for-3 with three home runs?" Bonds said. "What do you want from me?"

The highest-scoring Series in history came down to pitching, as it always seems to do in October. And Lackey and the bullpen gave Anaheim enough to win baseball's first all wild-card matchup.

The Angels became the eighth consecutive home team to win Game 7 of the World Series. History was on their side from the start and so was an omen -- a skywriting plane put a gigantic halo above Edison Field before the first pitch.

The Rally Monkey was ready, but the mascot only showed up a couple of times on the video scoreboard.

"We love the monkey because of what it does for us. It's a good-luck charm," Lackey said. "But it's good not to see him because that means we're winning."

Lackey, pitching on three days' rest, became only the second rookie starter to win Game 7 of the Series. He joined Babe Adams, who pitched Pittsburgh past Ty Cobb and Detroit in 1909.

Lackey wasn't even with the Angels, stuck in Triple-A, when they went 6-14 for the worst start in team history. But with both staffs worn down, the 24-year-old righty gave Anaheim exactly what it needed with five innings of one-run ball.

"It's not bad. This is where you want to be," Lackey said. "It's a long way from Salt Lake."

Anderson, now due to get the recognition he's always deserved, hit a three-run double off Livan Hernandez in the third for a 4-1 lead.

"Well, I just wanted to get into a situation where I'd be able to hit my pitch, not do too much," Anderson said.

Brendan Donnelly, Francisco Rodriguez and Troy Percival closed it for manager Mike Scioscia's bunch. Percival escaped a two-on, one-out jam for his third save of the Series.

"Unbelievable for us, for our fans," Percival said. "This team has worked as hard as any team ever. We deserve it."

And when it was over, Southern California, the land of celluloid stars, had just added a whole teamful of them while Hollywood luminaries Pierce Brosnan and John Travolta watched from the stands.

It was particularly sweet for Scioscia, who won a title with Baker as players in 1981 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team that long overshadowed the neighbors to the south.

"I'm enjoying it, but what these guys have done -- they're going to enjoy it for a long time," Scioscia said.

After the game, Scioscia and Baker spoke on the phone.

"We had everything fall into place," Scioscia said. "If we didn't win it, you know I wanted you to. You guys are champions, hold your heads high. You're awesome."

The game might have been the last for Baker with the Giants. There are growing indications he'll soon leave, possibly to take over the Chicago Cubs or Seattle.

Before this year, the Angels were known mostly for heartbreak, epitomized by the blown save by Donnie Moore that cost them a chance to reach the 1986 Series.

Beloved owner Gene Autry never saw his team get this far before passing away, and it didn't look like these guys would do it, either, especially after finishing 41 games out of first place in 2001.

Exchanging Blows
World Series Composite Box
Wins 4 3
Avg. .310 .281
Runs 41 44
Hits 76 66
HR 7 14
ERA 5.75 5.55
Errors 5 5
* 85 runs scored is a record
 

Somehow, the Angels pulled it together. They led the majors in hitting, overwhelmed the New York Yankees and Minnesota in the AL playoffs and then knocked out Bonds and Co.

"Somewhere, Gene Autry is smiling right now," commissioner Bud Selig said as he presented the trophy.

Owned by The Walt Disney Co., the Angels are still for sale. Before then, though, they can certainly travel the three miles or so to Disneyland to enjoy this most improbable championship. That's where the victory parade will be Tuesday.

"This has taken over as the happiest place on earth [Sunday night]," Disney chairman Michael Eisner said.

Anaheim and the Giants combined for a record 85 runs and 21 homers. Hernandez had been 6-0 lifetime in the postseason before losing twice to the Angels.

Hernandez seemed uncomfortable from the start, constantly pawing at the mound while trying to find his control. He looked nothing like the MVP of the 1997 World Series for Florida and instead resembled the pitcher who tied for the NL lead in losses this season, which he did with 16.

Hernandez walked Scott Spiezio with two outs in the second and Bengie Molina followed with a double that tied it at 1.

Molina added another double, and the hits were his way of honoring his father who was faraway. Earlier Sunday, former amateur outfielder Benjamin Molina Santana was in Puerto Rico, where he was inducted into the island's hall of fame.

The Giants took a 1-0 lead in the second on singles by Benito Santiago and J.T. Snow and a sacrifice fly by Reggie Sanders.

Notes: Glaus hit .385 with three homers and eight RBIs. ... Scioscia became the 28th person to play on and manage a championship team. Lou Piniella was the last to do it, playing for the Yankees in 1977-78 and guided Cincinnati in 1990. ... Goodwin's strikeout left Giants pinch-hitters at 0-for-15 in the postseason and they finished 0-for-16.

 
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