Angels set postseason record with 19 hits

NEW YORK (AP) -- Chone Figgins charged through Yankee Stadium's center field swamp to thwart New York with his glove, and then he put the Angels ahead with a suddenly revived bat.

On a soggy night when the Big Unit was a big bust for New York, Figgins' clutch plays pushed Los Angeles within one win of the AL Championship Series.

The speedy Figgins saved at least one run and possibly two with his diving grab of Gary Sheffield's liner and then hit a go-ahead single in an 11-7 victory Friday that gave the Angels a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five playoff series.

"Figgy's been our catalyst the entire season," Darin Erstad

Garret Anderson had four hits and five RBI for the Angels, who roughed up Randy Johnson and set their postseason record with 19 hits. Los Angeles can close out the series Saturday, eliminate the Yankees for the second time in four seasons and earn a spot against the Chicago White Sox in the ALCS.

Los Angeles lefty Jarrod Washburn is scheduled to face Shawn Chacon in Game 4.

"Our team has always been able to come back against any team with the little things, like we did today," Bengie Molina said. "That's just the kind of team we are."

Molina homered for the third straight game and Anderson hit a three-run shot through the raindrops as Los Angeles went ahead 5-0 and chased Johnson in the fourth. His playoff debut for the Yankees was a dud -- he allowed nine hits while getting only nine outs in the shortest of his 15 postseason starts.

"I pitch and my teammates expect us to win and for me to put us in a position to win, and I didn't do that," said Johnson, acquired by the Yankees from Arizona to win games like this. "My slider found too much of the middle of the plate. I didn't have a sharp one going down and away. Unfortunately my pitches were elevated today and I paid the price."

Sparked by Hideki Matsui's leadoff homer in the fourth, New York came back against Paul Byrd and the Angels' bullpen to go ahead 6-5 in the fifth only to quickly fall behind again as Aaron Small and Tom Gordon faltered.

New York, with a record payroll of $203 million, must win two straight in order to continue its quest for its first World Series title since 2000. If the Yankees fail, owner George Steinbrenner could order a shake up.

"Our offense is very capable. We'll come out fighting tomorrow," Alex Rodriguez said.

Small, a surprise 10-0 during the regular season after New York called him up from the minors, entered with runners at the corners in the fourth and got a strikeout and double-play grounder and then threw a 1-2-3 fifth. But he wound up losing for the first time since New York brought him up in mid-July.

"If I could put up the zero, we had a great chance to win this game," Small said.

Randy Johnson Randy Johnson left in the fourth inning after giving up five earned runs.

Erstad and Figgins, who had been 0-for-11 in the series, had run-scoring hits for a 6-5 lead. His catch stopped New York's momentum after the Yankees closed to 5-4 in the fourth.

"Who knows where that inning would have gone?" Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Figgins made two great plays at third base in Game 2. Several Angels called this catch the turning point, and it was especially impressive because of the conditions.

If Figgins had let Sheffield's drive drop in front of him, New York would have scored another run. If the ball had squirted by, the Yankees would have gotten two.

"He hits the ball so hard, the ball just kind of stayed up there," Figgins said. "I just had to take a chance, kill their momentum."

Anderson added a run-scoring single in the seventh off Gordon after Molina was hit on the left elbow by a pitch and forced from the game. Molina at first thought the elbow was broken, but X-rays were negative. He's still unsure whether he can catch in Game 4.

"We've got to wait until the morning and see how swollen it is," he said.

Steve Finley squeezed in an unearned run following an error by second baseman Robinson Cano, who came off the bag too soon when taking third baseman Rodriguez's soft throw on a grounder, and Jose Molina and Anderson singled home runs in the eighth off Scott Proctor.

Scot Shields struck out four in two innings for the win, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the sixth when Cano flied out. Kelvim Escobar allowed Derek Jeter's leadoff homer in the eighth, and Francisco Rodriguez finished a game that lasted exactly four hours.

While rain fell intermittently, the game was never halted. But a downpour started 20 minutes after the final out, and more wet weather is expected Saturday.

Johnson was 6-0 in his prior eight starts since Aug. 21 but quickly got into trouble.

Anderson had been 3-for-18 against the 42-year-old left-hander, who gave up career-high 32 homers during the regular season but just one to a left-handed hitter, Toronto's Eric Hinske on April 29. Johnson had held lefties to an .074 average (4-for-54) with one
extra-base hit since July 26 before Anderson reached down and drove a pitch into the right field bleachers.

After Bengie Molina's two-run homer in the third, Johnson stood in front of the mound, hands on hips, and a few moments later fans in the right field bleachers began chanting: "Aaron Small," hoping the reliever would be brought in.

Johnson was pulled after 62 pitches, and the crowd of 56,277 booed loudly -- Johnson had said Thursday that Diamondbacks fans in Arizona made more noise during his starts than the Yankees supporters.

"My slider found too much of the middle of the plate. I didn't have a sharp one going down and away," he said.

Small struck out Adam Kennedy and got Figgins to ground into a double play, with Cano going to his knees for a backhand stop at second and making a nifty underhand flip to Jeter.

After Matsui's homer, Jorge Posada's RBI grounder and Jeter's run-scoring single chased Byrd. Jason Giambi's run-scoring single off Brendan Donnelly went through the shortstop hole vacated by the overshifted infield. Cano's RBI double and Bernie Williams'
sacrifice fly put the Yankees ahead in the fifth.

"It was very disappointing, but there are two games left," Cano said.

Game notes
The Yankees left Game 1 winner Mike Mussina behind in California to pitch a possible Game 5, scheduled for Sunday in Anaheim. Barring a rainout Saturday, Bartolo Colon would pitch Game 5 for the Angels. ... The series has followed the pattern of the 2002 matchup, when the Angels lost the opener before winning three in a row.