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NEW YORK YANKEES 5, ANGELS 3

Yankees take dash and bash approach

They are aggressive on the basepaths and get a home run from Nick Swisher and a two-run triple from Mark Teixeira.

September 15, 2009|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

NEW YORK — Maybe now, the Angels will have to start answering questions about how difficult it is to control the running game of those pesky New York Yankees.

The Yankees have been dogged for years by such queries, the popular theory in the five boroughs being that their inability to contain the Angels' run-and-gun offense is the main reason the Angels have had so much success against the Yankees.

But in a table-turning moment Monday night, it was a daring dash on the bases by pinch-runner Brett Gardner that helped fuel the Yankees' highly entertaining 5-3 victory over the Angels in Yankee Stadium.

With two on, one out and the score tied in the eighth inning, Gardner stole third base and scored the go-ahead run when the throw of catcher Mike Napoli, who had just entered the game, tailed wide of third baseman Chone Figgins and bounced into left field.

Robinson Cano followed with a run-scoring single, and Mariano Rivera closed out the ninth with his 40th save, as the Angels lost the opener of a challenging seven-game trip through New York, Boston and Texas.

"I was trying to make a play, and it didn't work out," Napoli said. "This wasn't the first time I've come off the bench. It's no tougher because I came in late. My arm was loose. I had to make a play, and it didn't happen."

The Angels tied the score, 3-3, against setup man Phil Hughes in the eighth inning when Bobby Abreu and Vladimir Guerrero singled, Torii Hunter walked and Abreu scored on Kendry Morales' double-play grounder.

Mark Teixeira, the former Angels slugger whose two-run triple gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning, doubled against starter Jered Weaver with one out in the eighth, and Gardner, who had 20 stolen bases in only 91 games, came on to run.

Alex Rodriguez walked, and Darren Oliver came on to face Hideki Matsui. The runners took off on a 1-and-1 pitch, which didn't surprise the Angels.

"We knew if there was a window they would try to take it," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Erick [Aybar, Angels shortstop] was pinching at second. We thought we controlled the jump. The timing of the play was in our favor. Mike's throw tailed a bit. That's baseball."

The Yankees are known for their mashing ways -- they lead the major leagues with 222 home runs -- but they also rank seventh in the American League with 90 stolen bases.

"Gardner runs, [Derek] Jeter runs, [Melky] Cabrera runs," Figgins said. "They pick their spots. Gardner got a pitch, and he ran."

The Angels didn't do much running or hitting -- they were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position, and two of their runs scored on groundouts. Guerrero hit a solo home run in the second inning.

But there was one consolation: Texas lost, so the Angels maintained a six-game lead in the AL West.

"It's a tough trip for us," said Weaver, who gave up five runs and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings. "We wanted to start out on the right foot, and it just got away from us at the end."

It got away from them in the middle too, the Yankees scoring twice in the fifth inning to take a 3-2 lead.

Nick Swisher, who hit a solo home run in the third, led off the fifth with a double, Cabrera walked and both advanced on Jeter's bunt.

Johnny Damon followed with a broken-bat one-hopper to the left of Figgins, but before Figgins threw to first, Cabrera ran into the third baseman and was ruled out on interference.

Swisher returned to third and Damon reached on a fielder's choice. With two out, the Angels had the option of pitching around Teixeira to face Rodriguez.

Teixeira began the game with a .158 (three for 19) average against Weaver. Rodriguez was a .385 hitter with four home runs against Weaver.

The Angels pitched to Teixeira, who hit a two-run triple over Hunter's head, the center fielder losing his left shoe in a collision with the wall. Rodriguez grounded out to end the inning.

"We decided to go after Mark because I've had a little more success against him than A-Rod," Weaver said. "He's a great hitter, and he came up with a big hit. It's pick your poison with that lineup."

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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