ANAHEIM, Calif. — A.J. Burnett struck out 11 in just
his second win since July, and the New York Yankees won their first series in
two weeks with a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.
The Yankees, eliminated by the Angels in the first round
of the playoffs in 2002 and 2005, lost 18 of their last 23 games in Anaheim
before winning back-to-back games in less than 24 hours.
On Tuesday night, New York became the first major league
team to clinch a playoff berth. If the Red Sox lose later Wednesday or Thursday,
New York would clinch the AL East title by winning two of three at home against
Boston this weekend.
Robinson Cano hit a two-run single, and Melky Cabrera
followed with an RBI double in the fourth inning.
Ian Kennedy walked two batters and hit another in the
eighth before escaping the jam in his first major league appearance since
surgery to remove an aneurysm below his right biceps.
Gary Matthews Jr. and Bobby Abreu drove in runs for the
Angels, who didn't help their faint hopes of catching New York for the majors'
best record. Los Angeles dropped 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees with three
losses to New York in the last 10 days, including a makeup game at Yankee
Stadium last week.
With five relievers barely keeping Los Angeles off the
scoreboard, the Yankees won a series for the first time since sweeping Tampa Bay
in early September.
Kennedy got himself in plenty of trouble in the eighth,
but retired Erick Aybar on a bases-loaded fly to right. The Long Beach, Calif.,
native and former USC star spent 4 1/2 months on the disabled list after
surgery, only returning to the Yankees last weekend.
Mariano Rivera gave up a leadoff single to Abreu but
finished the ninth for his 42nd save in 44 chances, moving two behind the
Angels' Brian Fuentes for the major league lead.
Burnett (12-9) didn't make it out of the sixth inning,
allowing seven hits and three walks, but his strikeout total was one shy of his
season high. Gearing for a start in Game 2 of the playoffs, he is 2-5 with a
5.40 ERA in 11 starts since the beginning of August.
Scott Kazmir (9-9) made another solid start for the
Angels, but failed to win for the fourth time in five outings with his new club,
which has given him just eight total runs of support. The left-hander yielded
six hits and three walks over six innings, but allowed five straight Yankees to
reach base in the decisive fourth.
Mark Teixeira started New York's rally with a one-out
double, but Juan Rivera threw him out at the plate from left field on Shelley
Duncan's sharp single to right. Cano then drove home Hideki Matsui and Duncan,
and Cabrera added another double.
Matthews hit a run-scoring double over Duncan in right
field in the sixth, but two runners were stranded by Chone Figgins, who had
three hits and reached base four times.
Angels 1B Kendry Morales struck out four times.
… Yankees C Jorge Posada sat out after X-rays came back negative on his
bruised right foot. Posada stayed in the game after fouling a ball off himself
in the fifth inning Tuesday night. … Kennedy went 1-4 with a 6.14 ERA in 13
games with the Yankees from 2007-08, including 12 starts, but last pitched for
New York on Aug. 8, 2008, also at Los Angeles. … Jerry Hairston Jr. left the
game midway through an at-bat in the seventh with an undisclosed injury. Ramiro
Pena took over with a 1-1 count, and struck out.