<
>

Cruz's 10th-inning dinger the difference

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Toronto Blue Jays like the way Jose Cruz Jr. is progressing as their leadoff hitter.

Cruz hit his second home run of the game in the 10th inning and
also matched a career high with four of the Blue Jays' season-high
17 hits Saturday night in a 7-6 victory over the Anaheim Angels.

"He's a very conscientious kid who wants to really be a
front-line performer, and he works diligently with (batting coach)
Cito Gaston on his approach," manager Buck Martinez said. "He
likes hitting in the leadoff spot, and he certainly will stay up
there as long as he continues to swing the bat the way he did."

Cruz, who entered the game 2-for-19 on the road trip, drove a
2-2 pitch from Al Levine (5-7) to right-center for his 19th homer
leading off the 10th. Last season, he hit a career-high 31 homers.

"He's still giving away some at-bats from time to time, but I
think he'll get over that and become a legitimate .300 hitter
because he has that kind of talent," Martinez said.

Dan Plesac (3-3) got the victory, retiring both batters he
faced. He slipped a called third strike past Scott Spiezio with
runners at the corners to end the ninth, and Billy Koch got three
outs for his 26th save in 30 chances.

Cruz, Shannon Stewart and Carlos Delgado all homered in the
second inning off an ailing Ramon Ortiz, helping the Blue Jays
build a 6-1 lead. But the Angels tied it at 6 against Esteban
Loaiza on Adam Kennedy's fifth homer with two out in the sixth.

Kennedy, who has at least one RBI in eight consecutive games,
had a run-scoring single and a double his first two times up. He
scored Anaheim's fourth run on David Eckstein's fly to right in the
second -- kicking the ball out of catcher Darrin Fletcher's glove
after a perfect throw by Raul Mondesi.

Fletcher was charged with his third error in 83 starts and
Mondesi was credited with his 16th assist, the most this season by
an outfielder.

Switch-hitting rookie Felipe Lopez went 3-for-5 with two RBI
for Toronto.

The Blue Jays grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first when Ortiz hit
Brad Fullmer on the foot to force in one run and Lopez hit a
broken-bat looper to center to score Stewart, who singled.

After a solo homer by Anaheim's Troy Glaus, the Blue Jays
increased the margin to 6-1 in the second. Cruz homered, Stewart
hit his seventh one out later and Delgado followed with his 33rd
homer and 78th RBI.

"My numbers aren't great. I wish they were a little bit better,
but I'm still working on it," Delgado said. "I've been able to
get my hits and drive in my runs -- nothing compared to last year --
but we've got some baseball left and I feel pretty good. I've been
swinging the bat better the last couple of weeks, so hopefully I
can finish up strong."

Ortiz walked his next batter before leaving the game because of
soreness in his shoulder. He was charged with six runs and seven
hits in 1 2/3 innings, after giving up only two runs in each of his
previous three starts -- all wins.

The three homers were the most Ortiz has allowed in any of his
23 starts this season, and equalled the total the right-hander had
allowed in 41 2/3 innings over his previous six outings.

"I just felt a lot of pain," Ortiz said. "I couldn't feel the
ball. And when you don't feel the ball, it goes high."

Lou Pote replaced Ortiz, allowing a single by Fullmer and an RBI
double by Lopez before retiring his last 14 batters.

The Angels cut it to 6-4 with three runs in the bottom of the
second, the first two coming on RBI singles by Kennedy and Orlando
Palmeiro. Eckstein led off the fifth with a single and scored
Anaheim's fifth run on Glaus' double-play grounder.

Game notes
It was the first time the Blue Jays have homered three
times in an inning since April 23 of last season, when Delgado,
Fletcher and Marty Cordova did it against Orlando "El Duque"
Hernandez of the Yankees at SkyDome. ... The five-run deficit
matched the largest Anaheim has have rallied from this season to
tie a game. ... The Angels totaled three home runs in their
previous eight games -- all by Glaus, who led the AL last season
with a club-record 47.