GUERRERO HELPS ANGELS DOWN THE HOMESTRETCH ANGELS 6, CHICAGO 5.
CHICAGO - One might call it a dumb-luck play, another might say it's good hustle. Whatever it was, Vladimir Guerrero made his way around the bases in the 12th inning to score the winning run in the Angels' 6-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Friday in front of 28,059 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Guerrero was on second base with no outs when Bengie Molina laid down a sacrifice bunt, third baseman Geoff Blum making the throw to first. Guerrero, though, never slowed down as he hit third and headed home.
Second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, who was covering first on the play, threw home to catcher A.J. Pierzynski and had Guerrero beat by 10 feet, but Pierzynski stumbled as he tried to make the tag and Guerrero's slid around him and touched the plate with his hand.
``It's an aggressive baserunning play, not one by design, unless you're Willie Mays Hayes,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, referring to the character in the movie ``Major League.''
``But it worked. Vladi's obviously trying to create. It's a low-percentage play but I'm all for forcing the action. It's not one you draw up, but I think in 'Major League' they won the pennant on it.''
Guerrero's lack of hustle nearly cost him and the Angels an opportunity to be in position to score the winning run. Guerrero led off the 12th with a towering drive to left-center field and thought the ball was going over the fence, so he went into a slow home-run trot toward first base.
But when the ball hit the fence, Guerrero turned it into a sprint and barely beat center fielder Aaron Rowand's throw to second base.
``Vladi knows he shouldn't be watching the ball,'' Scioscia said. ``That's one we'll clean up. Hopefully, it won't happen again. I've already talked to him.''
Guerrero refused comment after the game, but his play was all anybody in both clubhouses could talk about.
``He's got a golden horseshoe somewhere,'' said Angels starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn, who struggled Friday giving up five runs and seven hits in five innings. ``To score on that bunt? Come on, that doesn't happen. When you're a great player, things like that happen I guess.''
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen thought it was a good play on Guerrero's part.
``Vladimir Guerrero to me is the best player in baseball,'' Guillen said. ``A lot of people think that is crazy baserunning, but you always take a chance when (the defense) falls asleep.''
Angels third base Ron Roenicke could do nothing but watch Guerrero run past him.
``I didn't hold my hands up, but I said no a few times,'' Roenicke said. ``I could see him rounding and he was flying. He can really run when he makes up his mind to turn the corner and cover some ground.''
It wasn't at all a typical Angels game, and not just because of the ending. The Angels had not scored six runs in a game in their previous 11 games, since scoring eight against Tampa Bay on Aug. 26. They had 13 hits in all, including a home run by Robb Quinlan.
Angels reliever Kelvim Escobar gave the Angels three big innings, holding the White Sox scoreless in seventh, eighth and ninth innings. He was matched by former Angels minor-leaguer Bobby Jenks, who threw three scoreless innings and struck out five, matching a career-high.
The White Sox nearly won it in the 11th inning when Juan Uribe singled to left field, but Rowand was thrown out trying to score from second by left fielder Juan Rivera.
``We dodged some bullets tonight,'' Scioscia said.
Francisco Rodridguez pitched the bottom of the 12th for the Angels and struck out the side, earning his 36th save.
Joe Haakenson, (626) 962-8811
photo, 6 boxes
Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera leaps over Chicago's Aaron Rowand while completing an inning-ending double play in the eighth inning Friday.
Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press
(1) ANGELS at WHITE SOX
- Joe Haakenson
(2) GAME RECAP
(3) HOW THE RUNS SCORED
(5) AL WEST
(6) AL WILD CARD