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Angels pick up a victory but make up no ground on Rangers

Jered Weaver strikes out 11 Yankees in eight innings and Maicer Izturis' sacrifice fly does the trick in the ninth in a game that feels like the playoffs.

September 09, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels shortstop Erick Aybar tags out the Yankees' Eduardo Nunez on a steal attempt in the ninth inning Friday night at Angel Stadium.
Angels shortstop Erick Aybar tags out the Yankees' Eduardo Nunez… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)

Maybe it was the 19-degree drop in game-time temperature from Wednesday night or the fact that the storied New York Yankees were in town, but there was a distinct October feel to the proceedings in Angel Stadium Friday night.

Starting pitchers Jered Weaver of the Angels and Bartolo Colon of the Yankees were superb, both teams made highlight-reel defensive plays, and Mike Scioscia and Joe Girardi matched managerial wits before a passionate crowd of 41,014.

And Angels fans — yes, there were a few among the typical pro-New York crowds when the Yankees are in town — loved the ending, Maicer Izturis delivering a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the ninth inning to lift the Angels to a 2-1 walk-off victory.

"Tonight felt like a playoff game," said Angels closer Jordan Walden, who threw a scoreless ninth to gain the win but has never actually pitched in the postseason. "If I was to imagine what a playoff game would be like, this would be it. The fans were into it. It's a blast pitching in games like this."

The win improved the Angels to 22-10 in their last 31 home games against the Yankees and 57-49 overall against them since 2000. They are the only American League team with a winning record against the Yankees since then.

But it didn't move them any closer to the playoffs. Texas beat Oakland, 13-4, so the Angels remained 21/2games behind the Rangers with 18 to play.

"We just keep finding ways to win," Weaver said. "We're scrappy. We don't have as many home runs as those guys have. But we come up with the pitching and big hits, and we do the little things, the bunts and the hit and runs."

After Scioscia's pitchout call helped catcher Jeff Mathis gun down pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez in the top of the ninth, his hit-and-run call helped the Angels win it in the bottom of the ninth.

Alberto Callaspo reached on an infield single off reliever Aaron Laffey to open the ninth and was replaced by speedy pinch-runner Jeremy Moore, who easily took third on Vernon Wells' hit-and-run single to left off reliever Luis Ayala.

Peter Bourjos was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Izturis, whose two-run, eighth-inning double led the Angels to a 3-1 win over Minnesota on Wednesday, came through with his fifth career walk-off hit to give the Angels their 10th walk-off win of the season.

Weaver, 2-2 with a 6.67 ERA in his previous five starts, looked like his old self, limiting the Yankees to one run — on rookie Jesus Montero's solo homer to left in the third inning — and three hits in eight innings.

Relying more on off-speed pitches than his fastball, Weaver struck out 11 and held the top four batters in the Yankees order — Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez—to one single (by Jeter) in 14 at-bats.

"My slider was good, and my changeup was as good as it's been all year," Weaver said. "You have to locate against those guys. You can't make many mistakes."

Colon, the former Angels ace who has staged a remarkable comeback after missing 2010 because of arm problems, was just as good, limiting the Angels to one unearned run and six hits in seven innings to lower his ERA to 3.55.

The Angels scored in the fifth when Bourjos reached on a one-out bunt single, Mathis reached on Jeter's throwing error and Howie Kendrick hit a run-scoring single to right.

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