It's rare for major leaguers to embrace moral victories, but the Angels, who spent April grasping for any kind of positives, easily wrapped their arms around one Wednesday night.
Yes, their eight-game winning streak ended with a 6-5 loss to the New York Yankees, the decisive run scoring in the sixth inning when Raul Ibanez tripled off reliever Hisanori Takahashi and Nick Swisher hit a sacrifice fly to break a 5-5 tie.
But the Angels, who were so impotent in April they seemed incapable of mounting any kind of comeback, did not go down without a fight.
Starter Ervin Santana somehow weathered a five-run, 48-pitch third inning, and the Angels staged an improbable score-tying, four-run rally in the fourth that included a two-run homer by red-hot slugger Mark Trumbo and a bunt single by Bobby Wilson, among the slowest players on the team.
The Angels rallied in the seventh, putting runners on first and third on two-out singles by Kendrys Morales and Trumbo, but Yankees reliever Cory Wade struck out Howie Kendrick for the third out.
The Angels threatened again with one out in the ninth when Alberto Callaspo walked and Albert Pujols reached on an infield single off Yankees closer Rafael Soriano.
Torii Hunter grounded into a fielder's choice, and up came Trumbo, who entered with a .370 average (40 for 108), seven home runs, 18 runs batted in and an American League-leading 18 extra-base hits in May.
Trumbo, who hit a walk-off home run in the Angels' 9-8 victory over the Yankees on Monday night, fouled off two full-count pitches before shattering his bat and lofting a routine fly ball to left for the final out.
"It was awesome, not that we lost, but that we got down early and fought back," Trumbo said. "Comebacks are one of the coolest things. They show a lot of character and can really be a confidence boost moving forward."
The Angels need all the confidence they can muster entering a weekend series against the two-time defending American League champion Texas Rangers, who lead the AL West by 51/2 games and who won two of three from the Angels in Texas on May 11-13.
"We have to treat them like any other team," Trumbo said. "If we treat them like Goliath, we're going to get beat. We can't be fearful of them. We can't think they're a better club, because that's not the case."
The Rangers closed that earlier series with a 13-6 thumping of the Angels, who fell to 15-20 and eight games behind Texas at the time.
They have gone 11-6 since then, mixing superb starting pitching with dominant relief, timely hitting, aggressive baserunning, great defense and a healthy dose of power.
"No doubt, we're a different team now than we were two weeks ago," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're more confident, and guys are playing at the level they can. We have to keep this moving forward."
The one drag on the club Wednesday night was Santana, who gave up a three-run home run to Curtis Granderson and a two-run homer to Robinson Cano in the fifth and has been tagged for a major-league high 15 homers on the season.
"The home run ball has been part of his past when he's pitching well," Scioscia said. "It's a byproduct of him challenging guys. Occasionally some guys are going to square balls up and hit them a long way. Ervin was behind in the count, and he wasn't able to repeat his pitches."
The third-inning ouburst gave the Yankees a 5-1 lead, but Trumbo lined a two-run homer to right in the bottom of the fourth to become the first Angel since Rex Hudler in 1996 to homer in four straight games. The club record for homers in consecutive games is five by Bobby Bonds in 1977.
Erick Aybar singled, and with two outs, Wilson, bunted for a single. Mike Trout followed with a two-run double to right-center to make it 5-5.