ANAHEIM, Calif. – Two clutch homers by Vladimir Guerrero were all that kept Dontrelle Willis from winning again.

Guerrero hit his second home run of the game in the 10th inning, giving the Los Angeles Angels a 2-1 victory over the Florida Marlins on Saturday.

The reigning AL MVP tied the score with a shot in the eighth off Jim Mecir, spoiling Willis’ bid to become the first 12-game winner in the major leagues.

Willis was pulled by Marlins manager Jack McKeon with a 1-0 lead after scattering 10 hits through seven scoreless innings and stranding five runners in scoring position.

But Guerrero greeted Mecir – the loser in Friday night’s series opener – with a homer to start the eighth. Two innings later, he greeted Todd Jones (1-2) with a leadoff drive into the left-field bullpen on a 3-2 pitch.

It was Guerrero’s 10th homer this season and the 21st of his career against the Marlins. The five-time All-Star has eight game-ending homers in his career, the other seven with the Montreal Expos.

Francisco Rodriguez (2-1) pitched two perfect innings for the win.

The Angels had a great opportunity to win in the ninth against lefty Valerio De Los Santos, but Darin Erstad grounded to shortstop with the infield in and Alex Gonzalez started an inning-ending 6-2-3 double play. It was the first double-play grounder in 269 at-bats this season for Erstad, who along with Kevin Mench and Jim Edmonds were the only players who had not grounded into one.

In a matchup of former World Series rookie pitchers, Angels right-hander John Lackey matched zeros with Willis through five innings before the Marlins broke through.

Luis Castillo, 4-for-6 on Friday night, singled his first three times up against Lackey – including a bunt hit leading off the sixth. He went to second on a wild pitch, was held at third on Miguel Cabrera’s single to right and scored on a single by Carlos Delgado that extended his hitting streak to 13 games.

But the Marlins didn’t get another hit.

Lackey escaped further damage later in the inning by retiring Juan Encarnacion with the bases loaded. The right-hander lost for the first time in seven starts since May 9, allowing a run and six hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out seven, walked three and threw three wild pitches.

It was the fourth straight game in which an Angels starter didn’t get a victory despite an impressive outing. Ervin Santana allowed a run over six innings Tuesday night before Scot Shields blew a 3-1 lead and lost 6-3. Bartolo Colon pitched a complete game the next night and lost 1-0. On Friday, Jarrod Washburn allowed two runs in six innings, but left trailing 2-1 before the Angels won 3-2 in 11 innings.

Notes: Willis and Lackey both won World Series rings as rookies. Willis made three relief appearances in 2003 against the Yankees. Lackey started Games 4 and 7 in 2002 against San Francisco and pitched in relief in Game 2. … Angels RHP Paul Byrd, Sunday’s scheduled starter, was pushed back to Monday against Texas because of tightness in his triceps. Santana, filling in for the injured Kelvim Escobar, will move up a day in the rotation and start Sunday on his normal rest. … Erstad extended his career-best hitting streak to 18 games with an opposite-field single in the third. His 196 interleague hits are the most since interleague play began in 1997. … Willis has not allowed a home run in 69 1-3 innings since April 23, when Cincinnati’s Felipe Lopez hit a two-run shot in the Marlins’ 4-2 victory.

AP-ES-06-18-05 1832EDT


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