07/10/2003 2:09 AM ET
Wooten's blast gives Angels win
Collision between Molina, Harvey sparks Anaheim
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Bengie Molina won't be playing in next week's All-Star Game, but 34,196 fans in Edison Field didn't seem to care.
Molina, who lost out in the etopps All-Star Final Vote tally earlier in the day, provided the Angels with a huge momentum boost in the sixth inning of Wednesday night's 5-3 win over the Kansas City Royals, and it wasn't done with his bat.
With two outs and the Royals rallying to take a one-run lead, the Royals' 6-foot-2, 240-pound first baseman, Ken Harvey, came barreling toward Molina on the back end of a double steal.
Shortstop Benji Gil fired the ball to Molina, who caught it and then caught the entire brunt of Harvey's oncoming charge. Harvey knocked Molina flat on his back, but Molina held onto the ball for the third out and got right up.
Harvey got up, too, but he was limping and had to hear a fervent outburst from the Edison Field fans applauding their brave backstop.
"It's always hard when you get hit like that, but you just have to take the hit, get up and go," Molina said. "I wanted to be a catcher and I know what some of the consequences are. This is hardball."
Said Angels manager Mike Scioscia: "That's a heck of a play for Bengie to hang in there like he did. He's a strong kid. He brings a lot to the game and he's going to hang in there on those plays, no question."
It was the second time in a week that Molina withstood a pounding at the plate and the second time he escaped the contact in better shape than the other guy.
On Sunday in Oakland, A's outfielder Jermaine Dye stepped a few feet out of the baseline to nail Molina and wound up out for three
to six weeks with a separated shoulder.
Harvey returned to the game but had to weather more boos from the crowd when he batted -- and singled -- in the seventh.
While the Harvey-Molina home-plate hit was jarring, it wasn't the biggest blow of the night for the Royals.
That came off the bat of Shawn Wooten, who lined a three-run home run into the left-field seats off Royals starter Jeremy Affeldt in the bottom of the sixth to put the Angels back on top for good.
"I'd like to say there's momentum," Wooten said of the Angels' uprising after Molina's play. "But if the pitcher makes pitches, it's tough to score runs off him. He put pitches around the plate that we could hit and we took advantage of them."
With the win, Anaheim improved to two games over .500 at 45-43 and moved back to within 10 1/2 games of the Seattle Mariners in the American League West. The Angels trail the second-place Oakland A's by 4 1/2 games.
Anaheim managed to win despite some shaky defense, including two pop flies that
were misplayed by Gil, who started in place of David Eckstein, who is out with a sprained right shoulder suffered while colliding with Garret Anderson in the outfield Sunday.
But the starting pitching of Angels right-hander Kevin Appier wasn't shaky at all from the get-go.
Appier cruised along through the first five innings, pitching shutout ball while only surrendering three singles.
The Angels broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth inning when Tim Salmon drew a leadoff walk from Affeldt and was singled to third by Anderson. Troy Glaus followed by hitting into a double play, but Salmon waltzed home to make it 1-0.
Anaheim made it 2-0 in the next frame courtesy of Darin Erstad, who lined an RBI single up the middle to score Gil, who had singled and moved to second on an Affeldt balk.
Trailing 2-0, Desi Relaford tripled off the high wall in right-center field to lead off the frame and Carlos Beltran singled him home for the Royals' first run before Raul Ibañez singled Beltran to third
That chased Appier and brought in reliever Francisco Rodriguez, who was greeted with an game-tying RBI double off the bat of Harvey on the first pitch. The Royals tacked on another run to take a 3-2 lead two batters later on an Angel Berroa sacrifice fly, but Molina's brave stand at the plate on Harvey's charge ended the threat.
"It's just baseball," Harvey said of the play. "It wasn't like I went out of the way to try to get him. It's just old-school. It's how you're taught to play the game."
When Molina grounded out in the sixth, Harvey approached him at first base.
"I said, 'No hard feelings,' Harvey said. "He said, 'Same here.' It's baseball. If I went out of my way to try to do something it would have been a different story. That's just the way the game is played."
Rodriguez got the win, Brendan Donnelly held the Royals scoreless in the eighth to lower his season ERA to 0.40 and Troy Percival got out of a jam in a shutout ninth for his 20th save of the year.
Percival gave up singles to Brent Mayne and Jarrod Patterson to start the ninth, but Aaron Guiel flew out to deep right field and defensive replacement Eric Owens nailed Patterson trying to take second base as Mayne advanced to third. Percival then got Relaford to fly out to end the game.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.