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ANGELS HAVE A LACK OF SWEEP PAIR OF ERRORS BY CABRERA SET UP PUNTO'S THREE-RUN HOMER MINNESOTA 8, ANGELS 5.

Byline: DOUG PADILLA

Staff Writer

ANAHEIM -- The Angels' chances at a sweep were brushed aside in a sloppy fifth inning.

Orlando Cabrera misplayed two ground balls in the fifth, pitcher John Lackey forgot how many outs there were and the Minnesota Twins went on to score four runs in an 8-5 victory Wednesday afternoon in front of 36,453 at Angel Stadium.

The Angels still won the series and took seven of 10 on the homestand.

As odd as it was to see the sure-handed Cabrera make a pair of miscues, it was even more strange to see the Twins' Nick Punto come through with the punishing blow. Punto hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning, his first home run of the season and just his second in the past twoyears.

Lackey (9-4) gave up sixruns (five earned) on seven hits in seven innings and missed a chance to become the major leagues' first 10-game winner.

"I don't know if it was as much (Lackey) as it was some of the things he couldn't control," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "A couple of plays weren't made, and he had to get some extra outs. (The Twins) have been struggling for a while but they put it together and got back into the game."

The Angels were leading 4-2 when Mike Redmond hit a ground ball up the middle that Cabrera was able to cut off. But he couldn't handle the short-hop and Redmond was credited with a hit.

On the next play, Cabrera came in on another bouncing ball, this one off the bat of Jason Kubel. His miscue on that one went for an error and left the Angels with no outs instead of two.

Punto followed with his full-count home run into the seats in right field to give the Twins their first lead of the game, and of the series, at 5-4.

The Cabrera miscues seemed to affect Lackey mentally, but the right-hander insisted otherwise.

"You'd like to pick (Cabrera) up after something like that happens," Lackey said. "I had guys on first and second and a 3-2 count. I threw a strike and he put a good swing on it."

Cabrera struggled, by his standards, last season with 16errors, but had just three this season in 253 chances before Wednesday. His .988 fielding percentage led all shortstops.

"It was more surprising than anything to me because he's played such great defense all year," Lackey said. "He's definitely saved (more games) than he's given away. It was unfortunate I wasn't able to pick him up."

After Punto's home run, Jason Bartlett fouled out to Casey Kotchman at first base. Luis Castillo singled, and Jeff Cirillo followed with a groundout to third.

Thinking they had threeouts, Lackey and catcher Mike Napoli both started to walk off the field. Lackey almost reached the third-base line while Napoli was nearly to the Angels' on- deck circle before both returned to their positions.

"I guess I counted a few of those (miscues)," Lackey said.

A walk and an RBI single by Justin Morneau gave the Twins a 6-4 lead before Lackey finally got out of the inning.

Napoli continued his hot hitting with two RBI singles and now has 18 RBIs in his past 18games. He had just three RBIs before that. Howie Kendrick added a sixth-inning home run and now has three hits in his past two games after a 2-for-28 slide.

But the offense was wasted in the defeat.

"We're in a position we were hoping to be by getting off to a good start this season," Scioscia said. "You want to keep it going."

doug.padilla@sgvn.com

(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2731

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Photo:

Angels starter John Lackey (9-4) gives up six runs in the loss, failing to become the majors' first 10-game winner.

Reed Saxon/Associated Press
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 7, 2007
Words:643
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