NEW YORK — As the ninth inning dragged on Sunday and the Angels came perilously close to blowing a five-run lead, Torii Hunter stood in right field in Yankee Stadium wondering how his team would vanquish this pesky, powerful and persistent foe.
"They're like vampires — you need a silver bullet or a wooden stake to drive through their heart," Hunter said of the New York Yankees, who lead the major leagues with 142 home runs. "They're out for blood in this park. No lead is safe here. They can cause havoc right away."
The Angels fueled that havoc, walking four during a nail-biter of a ninth, but much-maligned right-hander Kevin Jepsen got Alex Rodriguez to pop out to first base with the bases loaded, and the Angels held on for a wild 10-8 victory.
"We kind of loaded the gun for them, and they almost pulled the trigger," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Hopefully, we're going to close games with a little less drama . . . but when you're facing a deep lineup like the Yankees', you have to work for everything. You have to work for the last out."
The Yankees hit four homers Sunday, but the Angels matched that muscle with four homers of their own, solo shots by Erick Aybar and Albert Pujols in the first inning, Maicer Izturis' two-run shot in the sixth and Mark Trumbo's solo shot in the ninth.
The Angels pulled away with three in the eighth, which featured Bobby Wilson's run-scoring single, Mike Trout's run-scoring double and Aybar's suicide squeeze bunt, and Trumbo's team-leading 24th homer, a laser to left, pushed the lead to 10-5 in the ninth.
Ernesto Frieri, who had not given up a run in 261/3 innings in his first 26 games with the Angels after his May 3 trade from San Diego, came on for the bottom of the ninth. His streak was gone in two batters, a walk to Robinson Cano preceding Mark Teixeira's two-run homer to right that pulled the Yankees to within 10-7.
Frieri walked Nick Swisher and was pulled in favor of left-hander Scott Downs, who gave up four runs in the eighth inning of Friday night's 6-5 loss to New York.
Raul Ibanez took Downs' glove off with a hard-hit comebacker for an infield single. Andruw Jones struck out, and Russell Martin grounded into a fielder's choice, but Downs walked Derek Jeter to load the bases and Curtis Granderson to force in a run that made it 10-8.
Scioscia summoned Jepsen, who has a 98-mph fastball and a penchant for letting late-inning leads slip away. Rodriguez hit a two-run homer against Jered Weaver in the first, but Jepsen overpowered him in the ninth, inducing a popup to end the 3-hour 31-minute game and help the Angels avoid a three-game sweep.
"That was fun," Jepsen said. "You don't have a lot of room to work with, so you have to go after guys, which is what I like to do anyway. It's me against you, here it is, one of the best hitters in the game up there, bases loaded. You don't have the luxury of pitching around anyone."
Jepsen didn't exactly have his feet up in the bullpen as the ninth inning started, but he wasn't expecting to pitch when Frieri and Downs, nearly untouchable until this series, were both available.
"Those guys have a knack for going one-two-three," Jepsen said. "This wasn't one of those days that went how you draw it up, but I was happy to get in there and get the job done."
Weaver, who had given up two earned runs in 352/3 innings in his previous six starts, was tagged for five runs and 10 hits, including a season-high three homers, in seven innings, but he survived the barrage to improve to 11-1.
"You know you're going to give up some runs, a couple of home runs, in this park," Weaver said. "Luckily, two of them were solo shots, and one was a two-run job. You try to keep people off base, pitch to the score and keep your team in the game as much as possible."