ANAHEIM, Calif. — Jeff Mathis hit a two-out double in
the 11th inning to drive home the winning run and the Los Angeles Angels
survived a second straight thriller, beating the Yankees 5-4 Monday and trimming
New York's lead in the AL championship series to 2-1.
In a game full of missed chances for both sides, the
Angels eventually rallied to hand the Yankees their first loss of this
Howie Kendrick homered, tripled and then singled with two
outs in the 11th. Mathis followed with his drive up against the left-field wall,
and Kendrick slid home well ahead of a desperate throw.
Mathis, the Angels' backup catcher, came up with his
third late-inning, extra-base hit of this crazy series.
"It's been up and down the last couple games," Mathis
said. "Luckily we came out on top in this one."
Vladimir Guerrero also homered as the Angels overcame a
midgame 3-0 deficit and four solo homers by the Yankees' stars, including Jorge
Posada's tying shot in the eighth.
Game 4 is Tuesday night, with CC Sabathia pitching on
three days' rest against Angels newcomer Scott Kazmir. Game 5 in the
best-of-seven series is Thursday.
For the second straight game, the Angels and Yankees
played into tense extra innings, stretching nerves and bullpens still frayed
from Saturday's 13-inning, 310-minute Yankees' victory in New York.
Los Angeles wasted a golden opportunity in the 10th after
putting runners at the corners with nobody out against Mariano Rivera, but the
ace closer came through yet again, getting Torii Hunter and Guerrero with the
Fans gathered across the country at Yankee Stadium
erupted in cheers when Rivera retired the side – but the Angels came through in
the 11th after Ervin Santana pitched the 11th for Los Angeles.
The winning run came quickly after David Robertson
retired the first two Angels in the 11th. He got pulled, and Alfredo Aceves
became the Yankees' eighth pitcher. Kendrick singled and Mathis followed with a
drive to left-center, hit far too hard to allow a play on the speedy Kendrick.
Mathis, a .211 hitter in the regular season, entered
Game 3 in the eighth inning and hit a leadoff double in the 10th.
The Angels ended their six-game ALCS losing streak. The
Yankees had been 5-0 in this postseason, starting with a sweep over Minnesota.
Playing in balmy Orange County temperatures after a
frigid weekend in the Bronx, the Yankees had a 3-0 lead midway through the fifth
inning on homers by Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Johnny Damon. Andy Pettitte
also appeared to be cruising toward his record 16th career postseason victory,
which would have put New York one win away from its first World Series in six
Instead, Kendrick hit a fifth-inning homer, Guerrero
tied it with a two-run shot in the sixth, and Kendrick tripled off Joba
Chamberlain before scoring on Maicer Izturis' sacrifice fly in the seventh to
put the Angels ahead 4-3.
But Posada tied it again in the eighth, connecting to
deep center field off Kevin Jepsen. Jeter stranded two runners to end New York's
eighth, and Los Angeles' Bobby Abreu was tagged out moments later while
retreating to second base after his long drive to center.
Only three teams have ever blown a 2-0 lead in a league
championship series, but the 2004 Yankees are in that trio. After taking a 3-0
lead against Boston that infamous fall, the Yankees lost 13 of their next 17
postseason games before winning their first five this year.
Many fans hadn't even settled into their Angel Stadium
seats for Game 3 when Jeter ripped Jered Weaver's third pitch into the bullpen
beyond the left-field fence. It was the New York captain's third career
postseason leadoff homer and his 20th playoff homer, third on baseball's career
list behind Manny Ramirez and Bernie Williams.
Rodriguez connected in the fourth for his 11th career
playoff homer. He already has nine RBIs in this postseason, a career best.
Damon then found the short right field porch in the
fifth for his first homer since Aug. 30 and his fifth hit in three games since a
1-for-12 effort in the division series. The veteran outfielder hadn't homered in
his previous 120 at-bats, and hadn't connected away from homer-haven Yankee
Stadium since Aug. 5.
The 37-year-old Pettitte, a mainstay of New York's
playoff efforts since 1996, already has made the most postseason starts (37) and
pitched the most innings (231) in baseball history. He yielded seven hits and
one walk, but Los Angeles' two mid-game homers made him the first Yankees
starter to allow more than two runs in this postseason.
Weaver gave up five hits and three walks in five
innings, failing to recapture the dominance of his two-hit start against Boston
nine days earlier. He hadn't allowed more than two homers in a game since Aug.
Guerrero, the Angels' long-feared cleanup hitter, had
struggled in every big situation during the series, stranding eight runners in
Game 2, but his long shot to left was his first playoff homer in five years.
Abreu nearly started trouble for his former team in the
eighth, but he inexplicably went nearly halfway to third base on his long double
before trying to retreat to second, where first baseman Mark Teixeira alertly
waited to make the tag.
The Yankees also benefited from two baserunning blunders
in the division series. The Twins lost a run in Game 2 when Carlos Gomez was
caught off second before Delmon Young could score on Matt Tolbert's two-out
single. Nick Punto also was cut down trying to retreat to third in New York's
clinching victory in its first-round sweep.
Angels closer Brian Fuentes pitched a hitless ninth
inning, showing no effects from Rodriguez's 11th-inning, game-tying homer in
Game 2. Manager Mike Scioscia ordered an intentional walk for Rodriguez with
nobody on base and two outs, a move that paid off when pinch-hitter Jerry
Hairston Jr. struck out.
Posada apparently asked Angel Stadium officials
to turn on the lights midway through the game, played under partly cloudy skies.
… Abreu was 0 for 11 against his former team before his sixth-inning single.