ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- When their offense failed them this
season, the Los Angeles Angels scratched out victories with strong
pitching and sparkling defense.
That combination worked again Wednesday night against the
Yankees in the AL playoffs, and this time they also got a few key
Cabrera scored the tying run after a costly error by Alex Rodriguez and hit a go-ahead single, Molina got two big hits and
the Angels beat the Yankees 5-3 to tie their best-of-five,
first-round series at one game apiece.
"On the offensive side, we didn't have many hits, but they all
counted," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We caught a break
with that ball [by A-Rod]. I think the lights got Alex at third
base. ... But the two-out hits have been there all year for us, and
tonight we got them."
New York went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position -- 0-for-8
after Robinson Cano doubled in the first run -- and made three
errors that led to three unearned runs.
"It's costly," Rodriguez said. "In postseason, you can't make
mistakes. You kind of knew that once that play wasn't made, they
were going to score somehow -- even after two outs. That was as
routine of a play as it could get. I looked down and I couldn't
believe it wasn't in my glove. But you have to move on. You can't
dwell on it."
The Angels, in contrast, saved one or two runs with their
With New York leading 2-0 on Cano's second-inning double and
Gary Sheffield's RBI grounder in the fifth, Angels third baseman
Chone Figgins dived toward the foul line to make a backhanded stop
on a hard-hit ball by Hideki Matsui to end the fifth with Jason Giambi on third.
Then, with Bernie Williams on second base in the sixth, Jorge Posada hit a grounder down the first-base line that Gold Glove
first baseman Darin Erstad knocked down and flipped to pitcher John Lackey, who went to his knees at first to make the grab with his
back to the plate. Williams was stranded when Derek Jeter grounded
out against Scot Shields.
"Give those guys credit," said Rodriguez, 0-for-5 in the
series and 2-for-22 in his last six playoff games. "Figgins made
one of the greatest plays I've ever seen, and Erstad made another
Los Angeles tied the score in the bottom of the sixth when
Rodriguez let Cabrera's leadoff bouncer hit off the webbing of his
glove for an error, and Molina singled Cabrera home with two outs.
The rally monkey the Angels so relied on throughout their 2002
title run immediately began jumping around on the big screen.
"We definitely needed to get one here," said Lackey, who made
his first postseason start since winning Game 7 of the 2002 World
Series. "It's a tough place to play back there, although we're
definitely not intimidated."
The Angels went ahead in the seventh on Cabrera's two-out,
two-run single off Wang, and Molina homered in the eighth off Al Leiter -- Molina's second homer in as many nights -- to make it 5-2.
"Bengie Molina is probably one of the best clutch hitters in
baseball," Figgins said. "He always seems to get it done."
Posada hit a solo homer in the ninth against Francisco Rodriguez, who got his first postseason save. That was the only hit
off the Angels' bullpen, with Kelvim Escobar pitching two hitless
innings between Shields and Rodriguez for the victory.
Figgins might not be wreaking havoc on the basepaths as he
typically does due to an 0-for-8 start in the series with three
strikeouts, but the Angels used bunts and speed to go ahead.
Rivera, a former Yankee, reached on a gutsy infield single
leading off the seventh. He hit a high chopper to Jeter at
shortstop and nearly stumbled before sliding safely headfirst into
Jeff DaVanon entered to pinch run, and Scioscia hustled out of
the dugout to give instructions to Steve Finley, who bunted and
reached when Wang's throw pulled Cano off the first-base bag for an
Adam Kennedy sacrificed the runners to second and third and,
after Figgins flied out to short center, Cabrera lined the next
pitch to left-center to put the Angels ahead. Cabrera hit safely in
every game of the 2004 AL Championship Series to help the Red Sox
beat the Yankees in seven games and go on to win the World Series.
The Yankees won Tuesday night's opener 4-2 by beating 21-game
winner Bartolo Colon, but the Angels bounced back -- just as they
did after losing the opener of each series on the way to the
franchise's first championship three years ago.
Manager Joe Torre chose Wang over Game 4 starter Shawn Chacon
because Wang had faced the Angels already this season and Torre
figured he'd earned this chance. The rookie right-hander went at
least six innings in 15 of his 17 starts, recording his first major
league win May 10 against Seattle.
Wang retired the first five Angels on groundballs before Erstad
singled in the second. Cabrera's flyball to right in the third was
the first out recorded by an outfielder as Wang efficiently made
his way through the order.
"He made a couple of mental mistakes, and both of them were up
in the zone," said Posada, the catcher. "One of them was Bengie
Molina's base hit with a man on second base and the other was
second and third with Cabrera. You take those two away and he's got
a heck of a ballgame. He gave us a chance to win, but we didn't
score for him."
A-Rod made 12 errors in the regular season. ... The Florida
Marlins received permission from the Yankees to interview bench
coach Joe Girardi for their managerial opening. ... Angels slugger Vladimir
Guerrero went 0-for-3 and was plunked in the lower left side in the
fourth. He was 1-for-3 with a walk in the series opener. ... The
ceremonial first pitch was handled by Chuck Finley, Mark Langston
and Jim Abbott -- the last trio of Angels pitchers to record 200 or
more innings in the same season (1992) before Lackey, Bartolo Colon
and Paul Byrd accomplished the feat this season.