ANAHEIM, Calif. — Joe Saunders pitched into the ninth inning and the Los Angeles Angels prevented the
Yankees from wrapping up a playoff spot, beating New York 5-2 on Monday
night in a matchup of division leaders.
Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter
hit consecutive RBI doubles off Yankees starter Andy Pettitte, and
Kendry Morales added a pinch-hit homer.
The Angels earned their 90th victory
for the seventh time in nine seasons and reduced their magic number to
six for clinching their third consecutive AL West title. The Yankees,
who have dropped six of 10, could have secured a postseason spot with a
win or a Texas loss at Oakland. The Rangers beat the Athletics 10-3.
Los Angeles has won four of five and
remained a season-best 7 1/2 games ahead of Texas. The Angels moved
within 4 1/2 games of New York in the race for the best record in the
AL and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
The Yankees, looking for their 14th
playoff berth in 15 years, stayed five games ahead of Boston in the AL
East because the Red Sox blew a pair of six-run leads in a 12-9 loss at
New York missed the postseason last
year in Joe Girardi‘s first season managing the team. The Yankees have
squandered a pair of chances to clinch at least the AL wild card,
losing the past two days to the Mariners and Angels.
Saunders (14-7) gave up two runs and
seven hits in 8 1/3 innings, struck out three and walked none in
winning his fifth consecutive decision and sixth in his last seven.
After the first inning, the left-hander didn’t allow a runner past
second until Alex Rodriguez homered leading off the seventh.
Saunders left after giving up a
one-out single to Rodriguez in the ninth and tipped his cap to
acknowledge a standing ovation from the crowd of 38,667.
Brian Fuentes got two outs for his 44th save in 51 chances.
Pettitte (13-7) allowed three runs
and five hits in six innings, struck out three and walked two in losing
for the first time in 10 starts. New York skipped the left-hander’s
previous turn in the rotation because he had a tired shoulder.
Pettitte departed a game with the
Yankees trailing for the first time since July 11, also in Anaheim, a
span of 13 starts. He lost for the first time since a 6-4 defeat on
July 25 against Oakland.
The Angels led 2-0 on consecutive
RBI doubles by Guerrero and Hunter with two outs in the first. Guerrero
doubled in Bobby Abreu, who singled, and then Guerrero scored on
Hunter’s double to nearly the same spot in right-center.
Erick Aybar made it 3-0 in the fifth with a grounder past a diving Rodriguez at third that scored Robb Quinlan, who walked.
Rodriguez spoiled Saunders’ shutout bid with his 66th career homer against the Angels, the most of any player against the team.
Morales, batting for Quinlan in the
seventh, sent his 31st homer to left field off Brian Bruney, making it
4-1. Juan Rivera‘s RBI double in the eighth scored Guerrero, who
singled off Jonathan Albaladejo.
The Yankees scored a run in the
eighth on Hideki Matsui‘s first career pinch-hit homer. He sent a 1-2
pitch from Saunders into center field.
The Yankees have a major
league-leading 34 wins against left-handers. … The Angels are 33-15
against lefties this season.