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FREEWAY COLLISION: DODGERS WIN BRAWL-MARRED GAME IN 9TH : DODGERS 5, ANGELS 4.

Byline: Eric Noland, Daily News Staff Writer

For 37 years, the Dodgers and Angels enjoyed a relatively peaceful cohabitation in Southern California.

The Dodgers won championships and fans' hearts, with little reason to feel threatened by their neighbors. The Angels, meanwhile, were conscientious objectors in the battle for the region's baseball soul, content to throw money at star-crossed free agents, make brainless trades, play before minuscule crowds and lose a lot of games.

All of that apathy was shoved aside Wednesday night at Anaheim Stadium, however. And, in a stirring 5-4 win by the Dodgers, shoved hard.

Given a chance to play games that count with the advent of interleague play in the major leagues, the two went at one another like a couple of infuriated siblings, brawling for a full eight minutes in the middle of a game that later turned on the haymaker of Eric Karros, who drilled a home run to right field off Troy Percival to break a 4-4 tie in the eighth.

A sellout crowd of 34,507 at Anaheim Stadium - liberally stacked with Dodgers fans - seemed to love every minute of it.

``Yeah, it's going to get the blood pumping a little bit,'' Dodgers catcher Tom Prince said of a bench-clearing shoving match that occurred after Chan Ho Park put a fastball up under the chin of the Angels' Tony Phillips.

``It was an intense game,'' added Karros, although the Dodgers first baseman says it had more to do with the team's opportunity to climb to within six games of first-place San Francisco in the National League West. (Mission accomplished.)

Intense. Wild. Manic even - the teams combined for seven errors.

The Dodgers fought back from an early 3-0 deficit to tie it at 3-3 in the fifth and inch ahead 4-3 on Tripp Cromer's RBI single in the eighth.

The Angels answered with a ground-rule double in the eighth by Phillips whose fourth hit and fourth RBI of the night tied the game at 4-4.

But the sizzling Karros had the final word. Against Percival, the Angels' hard-throwing closer, he drove a one-out fastball over the wall in right, and Todd Worrell shut down the heart of the Angels' lineup in the bottom of the ninth to secure the Dodgers' third win over the Angels without a loss this season.

``I'm up there trying to do one thing - hit the ball out,'' said Karros. ``Mike (Piazza, the preceding hitter) did a good job wearing him out. He fouled off about seven pitches.''

It was Karros' 10th home run in his past 19 games.

Percival said of his lapse: ``I usually don't take it personally against anyone else, but I take it personal after the scuffle we got into.''

Park, who has battled wildness in his last three starts, didn't make any friends with the Angels in the early innings, as he hit Jim Edmonds and Tim Salmon with pitches.

The issue boiled over when Phillips, the most volatile of Angels, stepped into the box with two out in the fourth inning.

Phillips, who had led off the game with a home run and later driven in two runs with a single, soon was surveying a fastball headed generally at the point of his chin. After diving out of the way, he slammed the head of his bat to the ground, took a step in front of the plate and began yelling at Park, who remained atop the mound looking blandly toward the plate.

Prince, in the game at catcher because Piazza was rested as a designated hitter, quickly got in Phillips' face, and soon Karros was arriving from first base to separate the two forcibly.

The dugouts and bullpens quickly got into it, resulting in the requisite elements for a major-league brawl: a lot of grabbing and shoving, one or two players hitting the deck, and no one visibly injured. In this case, no one ejected, either.

``I just didn't want him going out trying to hit Chan Ho,'' Prince said of Phillips. ``We weren't trying to hit him. He hit a fastball for a home run and a breaking ball for a single, so we were going to pitch him in. . . . and Chan Ho's always been a little wild.''

Said Karros of his role: ``I just wanted to separate them (Phillips and Prince).

``It's not that big a deal. Typical baseball thing - get out there and talk.''

Right.

The high spirits should have been expected. The Dodgers and Angels not only are playing for their civic egos, they are straining to get back into their respective division title races.

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos

PHOTO (1--color) The Dodgers' Eric Karros and Angels manager Terry Collins get in middle of a fourth-inning, bench-clearing brawl.

(2) Eric Karros, left, of the Dodgers tries to get between teammate Tom Prince and the Angels' Tony Phillips as the brawl begins.

Associated Press
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 3, 1997
Words:814
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