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C.J. Wilson throws struggling Angels a lifeline, beats Yankees

C.J. Wilson, signed by the Angels after being spurned by Yankees, pitches six effective innings, and Howie Kendrick, Chris Iannetta and Vernon Wells homer in 7-1 win that ends Angels' three-game skid.

April 14, 2012|By Mike DiGiovanna

NEW YORK — C.J. Wilson was winless in his first four career starts against the New York Yankees, and he and his agent were shut out by the club last winter when their request to make a free-agent recruiting trip to the Bronx was denied.

Wilson signed a five-year, $77.5-million deal with the Angels in December, and on Saturday he showed New York what it missed out on, allowing one run and six hits in six innings and wiggling out of several jams to lead the Angels to a 7-1 victory in Yankee Stadium.

"You can use it as a chip on your shoulder to get you through a little bit, but I think it's more of an aftertaste, because you're really focused on getting hitters out," Wilson said.

"You're not trying to strike out the front office. You have to get [Robinson] Canoout, get [Alex] Rodriguezout. You have to play against the players. You can't play against the fans or anybody else."

Wilson's bigger concern Saturday was helping to right a team whose young season seemed on the verge of going from anticipation and expectation to consternation.

The highly touted rotation was wobbly through seven games, posting a 5.02 earned-run average and allowing 47 hits, including nine home runs, in 43 innings. Several hitters were in funks, and the bullpen was a mess.

By no means did the Angels play a perfect game. They went one for eight with runners in scoring position, struck out 10 times, committed two errors and failed to execute a sacrifice bunt.

Kendrys Morales went 0 for 5 and has one hit and seven strikeouts in his last 21 at-bats, his average falling to .200. Right fielder Torii Hunter struck out three times.

But it was still the Angels' most complete game of the season and enough to stop a three-game losing streak.

Wilson retired Cano, Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira after allowing two singles to start the first. He escaped two-on, one-out jams in the fourth and fifth and a second-and-third, two-out jam in the sixth when he got Derek Jeter to fly to right.

Howie Kendrick, hitless in 12 previous at-bats, had three hits, including a three-run homer to left-center field off starter Phil Hughes that gave the Angels a 6-0 lead in the fourth.

Vernon Wells, who entered with a .192 average, singled ahead of Chris Iannetta's slicing two-run homer inside the right-field foul pole in the second, and lined the 250th home run of his career to left in the fifth.

Albert Pujols, who entered with a .222 average, had two hits, including a run-scoring double over the head of center fielder Curtis Granderson in the third.

The bullpen, which was torched in losses to Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday, got hitless innings from Kevin Jepsen (seventh), LaTroy Hawkins (eighth) and Jordan Walden (ninth).

Though he struck out three times, Peter Bourjos contributed with a running, lunging catch of Andruw Jones' drive to deep center in the third.

"We drove the ball well today, and that allowed us to absorb some of the little things that didn't take place," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's good to see guys coming out of the bullpen and throwing the ball well and C.J. setting the tone on the mound.

"I don't know if you're going to do everything right every game, but I think we're scratching the surface of what we can do. We need to keep pushing the envelope to execute the things we do well as a team so we can continue to improve."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

twitter.com/MikeDiGiovanna

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