Inside job: Vlad lifts Angels

Inside job: Vlad's homer lifts Angels

ANAHEIM -- See no Ebel, hear no Ebel, Dino Ebel.

Vladimir Guerrero had one thing on his mind Friday, and it wasn't the Angels third-base coach.

Guerrero sliced a ball down the right-field line in the eighth inning, and despite Ebel's directive to stop, Guerrero had no intention of pulling up for a triple. He rounded the bag to complete the first inside-the-park home run of his career.

"He did. He did hold me," Guerrero said through an interpreter. "But I saw the arch of the throw. My job is to be a baserunner and to score."

The highlight-reel play produced a tiebreaking two-run homer and a 5-2 win for the Angels to open their series with the Orioles and provide the club with only its second three-game winning streak this season.

But Guerrero may not have scored if Baltimore right fielder Jay Gibbons had made a clean play and not been injured.

As the ball was slicing into the corner, Gibbons dove to cut it off, but he slid headfirst into the wall. He got up, ran after the ball and threw in to first baseman Kevin Millar, who tried to make the relay home. Millar's throw sailed high and wide of home plate.

Gibbons, who fell to his knees in pain, was attended to by Orioles trainers. He was lifted from the game, but he was able to walk off under his own power. The initial diagnosis was a right shoulder strain and a strained left hip flexor.

"I knew, if that gets by me, that's a run for sure," Gibbons said. "If I cut it off, I keep it second and third. I thought I had it. I didn't. I didn't have time to brace myself, and [I] just hit [the wall]. My back locked up on me a little, my [trapezius], my back spasmed, and I just kind of didn't know where I was for a second."

It was the first inside-the-park home run for the Angels since Darin Erstad turned the trick in Toronto on May 24, 1997, and the first at home since Luis Polonia did so against the A's on Aug. 9, 1991.

"I saw the overthrow when I peaked over my shoulder, and I saw the arch of the ball," Guerrero said. "Even if Millar picked up the ball, I knew it would be high. I knew that Gibbons was hurt, but it was the arch of the ball that gave me the chance to score on the play."

It was the 13th home run of the year for Guerrero and the 318th of his career, but he prefers the slower route. It gave the Angels a 4-2 lead.

"Hitting it over the fence is more fun because running home to home is not easy," Guerrero said.

The late-inning heroics put a positive spin on the night for Ervin Santana, who did not allow a hit until the third and tossed five scoreless innings to open his start. Santana was pushed up to accommodate the Major League debut of Jered Weaver on Saturday.

The Angels struck first when Adam Kennedy's hit a ball to right field that tipped off Gibbons' glove in the bottom of the third, resulting in a triple. Kennedy scored on a sacrifice fly by Chone Figgins.

Dallas McPherson followed in the fourth with his third home run of the year, a solo shot to right off Orioles starter Bruce Chen. It was the 14th of McPherson's career, but his first off a left-handed pitcher.

The Orioles pulled even in the top of the sixth as Santana began to lose his focus and get the ball up in the strike zone.

Brian Roberts doubled to left-center field with one out, and he scored on Melvin Mora's RBI single to center. Miguel Tejada then reached on a fielder's choice and went to second when Santana was called for a balk. A hard-breaking slider got away from catcher Mike Napoli, and Tejada took third on the wild pitch before scoring on a single to center by Gibbons.

After Santana walked two batters to lead off the eighth, Scot Shields (2-3) came on to get three outs and pick up the win. Francisco Rodriguez pitched the ninth for his 12th save. Orioles reliever Todd Williams (2-1) took the loss.

"I thought Ervin pitched great tonight," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He had good life on his fastball, and he really worked his changeup well tonight. He got into a little trouble in the eighth, but Shieldsy came in and was terrific."

Santana allowed two runs on six hits and two walks with two strikeouts over seven-plus innings for a no-decision.

"I don't care about that," Santana said about not getting the win. "We won, and that is the important thing. That is what we're supposed to do."

Mike Scarr is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.