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Angels let chance to close out Yanks slip away

NEW YORK (AP) -- Hardly any time to feel satisfied for Derek
Jeter, Mariano Rivera and the Yankees. They packed their bags and
bolted for the airport -- New York is still around in these playoffs
and has much more work to do.

Slow-footed catcher Jorge Posada barely beat the tag for the
go-ahead run on Jeter's seventh-inning bouncer, and New York
scratched out a 3-2 victory Sunday night over the Los Angeles
Angels to force a decisive fifth game in California.

Pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra came through with a tying single and,
with Yankee Stadium rocking, Rivera retired Vladimir Guerrero for
the final out to finish off a two-inning save as the Yankees evened
the best-of-five AL playoff series at two games apiece.

"The whole game was a grinder, we did a lot of things well,"
Posada said. "It doesn't mean anything if we don't go out there
and play the way we're supposed to."

After a rainout Saturday postponed Game 4, the teams must now
fly cross-country overnight to play Monday in Anaheim at 8:15 p.m.
EDT. Both scheduled pitchers were already waiting out West -- Game 1
winner Mike Mussina and Angels ace Bartolo Colon.

"It's a long flight for both teams," Los Angeles outfielder
Steve Finley said. "This team is not going to hang its head. We're
going to come back tomorrow with the same energy we had today."

Thanks to yet another New York comeback, this first-round series
is the only one to go the distance in 2005. The winner Monday faces
the Chicago White Sox in the AL championship series.

It also means 37-year-old Bernie Williams has at least one more
game left with the Yankees. He can become a free agent after this
season -- his 15th in New York.

But most important for the Yankees, Rivera said he would be
ready to throw two innings again in Game 5 if needed.

"I can't stop," he said. "Tomorrow is going to be the big
one."

Trying to knock New York out of the playoffs for the second time
in four seasons, the Angels built a 2-1 series lead on airtight
defense and a deep bullpen.

This time, both betrayed them.

With the Yankees trailing 2-1, Robinson Cano reached on an
infield single to start the seventh and Posada drew a one-out walk
from losing pitcher Scot Shields.

Sierra, batting for No. 9 hitter Bubba Crosby, grounded a sharp
single to right and Cano scored standing up despite a strong throw
from Guerrero, leaving runners at the corners.

Jeter, at the center of so many big moments for the Yankees,
topped a slow bouncer to third, forcing Chone Figgins to charge the
ball.

Figgins, who made a couple of outstanding defensive plays
earlier in the series, bounced a wide throw to the plate, and
Posada skidded in on an aborted slide. Catcher Bengie Molina argued
the call, as did Angels manager Mike Scioscia.

But after his teammates viewed a replay and told him what they
saw, Molina agreed that Posada was safe.

"It's a tough play. Two strikes, I'm playing back and the guy's
going on contact," said Figgins, adding that the ball was a little
wet when he grabbed for a grip.

Winning pitcher Al Leiter got Darin Erstad to ground into an
inning-ending double play in the seventh. With the season on the
line, Rivera got six outs for his record 34th career postseason
save and second of the series.

"Let me tell you something: It's not easy," Rivera said. "But
I trust my pitches and I trust my teammates behind me."

Acquired from Colorado for a pair of minor league pitchers in
late July, Shawn Chacon was one of the fill-in starters who helped
save the Yankees down the stretch -- and he delivered again in his
playoff debut.

While Chacon went 10 days between starts, Los Angeles' John
Lackey was pitching on only three days' rest. After a no-decision
in Game 2, he was told Sunday morning that he would need to step in
for scheduled starter Jarrod Washburn, scratched because of a
throat infection and fever.

As a rookie, Lackey started and won Game 7 of the 2002 World
Series against San Francisco on short rest, and his cap was sent to
the Hall of Fame.

He delivered another gutsy effort before 56,226 raucous fans.
Each team managed only four hits in a tight ballgame.

"That was an outstanding performance by John Lackey," Scioscia
said. "Unfortunately, Chacon matched him pitch for pitch."

After rain fell all weekend in the Big Apple, Game 4 was played
under a clear sky on a crisp, 61-degree night.

Chacon retired his first nine batters, striking out four, and
Guerrero's infield single with two outs in the fourth was the
Angels' first hit.

"He's cool. He's having a good time. He just really told people
a lot more with this last start than we learned since he came over
from Colorado. Obviously, we needed every bit of it," Yankees
manager Joe Torre said. "Now we can reunite with Moose again
because we haven't seen him in about five days."

Lackey had the Yankees off balance, too: Alex Rodriguez's bat
slipped out of his hands and sailed into the seats about halfway
down the left-field line after he swung and missed in the third.
The right-hander held New York hitless until Posada's two-out
double in the fifth.

Chacon finally faltered in the sixth. Juan Rivera drew a leadoff
walk on four pitches and advanced to second on Finley's sacrifice.

With two outs, Figgins, who started the series 0-for-11, lined
an RBI double into the right-field corner, and Orlando Cabrera hit
the next pitch to right-center for consecutive doubles and a 2-0
lead.

Gary Sheffield's two-out RBI single cut it to 2-1 in the bottom
half, and Scioscia handed the rest of the game to his normally
steady bullpen. Shields retired Hideki Matsui to end the inning.

Lackey lasted 5 2/3 innings -- just as he did for a no-decision
in Game 2 -- and allowed only two hits. He struck out six and walked
four.

"I felt like I was still strong, but you can't argue with going
to our bullpen," Lackey said. "When you hold that lineup down the
way we did tonight, you've got to find a way to win."

Chacon gave up two runs and four hits in 6 1/3 innings.

"I get nervous, I'm human," Chacon said. "When I get out on
the mound, that's where I'm supposed to be. I'm in control and
nobody can bother me."

Williams, baseball's career leader in postseason homers (22) and
RBI (80), received a standing ovation before each trip to the
plate, with the crowd chanting "Bernie! Bernie!" He finished
0-for-4.

Game notes
Williams took over in center field in the eighth, leaving
the Yankees without a DH. Rivera took the No. 3 spot in the lineup.
... Molina left Game 3 on Friday night after being hit on the left
elbow by Tom Gordon's pitch. ... Sierra was 4-for-23 with three
RBI as a pinch-hitter during the regular season. ... Posada pumped
his first after throwing out a pair of runners at second base in
the fourth. ... Chacon did get two outs in relief during the
regular-season finale on Oct. 2.