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Escobar shuts down Yanks' lineup as Angels roll

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The New York Yankees made the mistake of
falling behind the Los Angeles Angels and they paid for it.

Orlando Cabrera hit a two-run homer, Kelvim Escobar stifled most
of New York's big hitters and the Angels won 4-1 Friday night in
their home opener.

"We're flat right now," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Los Angeles kept up its mastery of the Yankees, who were
eliminated from the postseason by the Angels in 2002 and again last
year. New York lost its third in a row and fell to 1-3 on its
season-opening road trip.

The Yankees are 2-6 in their last eight games at Angel Stadium.

"It's frustrating because we feel like we know what the
potential is," Alex Rodriguez said. "We got to get into a
rhythm."

Escobar (1-0) allowed one run on six hits in six innings, struck
out two and walked none. The right-hander fanned Jason Giambi in
the sixth for his 1,000th career strikeout, earning a standing
ovation from the regular-season record crowd of 44,221.

"It means a lot to be able to talk to my kid tomorrow and tell
him that I pitched in the big leagues and I had 1,000 strikeouts,"
he said.

But the news wasn't all upbeat. Escobar pitched his final four
innings with a split fingernail, and said he might miss his next
start.

"It's not looking good right now," he said.

Escobar was especially effective against the heart of the
Yankees' lineup -- Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui
combined for four hits. Gary Sheffield, Rodriguez and Giambi were
hitless.

"We played right into Escobar's hands, probably trying to do
too much," said Rodriguez, who headed to the indoor batting cage
after the game. "He's not a guy that's going to give you a lot of
fat pitches. We got to really work the count and hit the ball the
other way. That's the ticket with Escobar."

New York pounded out 17 hits and scored 15 runs in its
season-opening win at Oakland on Monday, but has struggled since.

"Before everyone anoints this the greatest offense ever, let us
play a little while first," Jeter said. "The names don't win
games. You have to go out there and perform, and we really haven't
swung the bats well."

Francisco Rodriguez pitched a perfect ninth inning for his
second save of the season. Rodriguez also tied a club record by
converting his 20th straight save opportunity.

Shawn Chacon (0-1) allowed four runs and eight hits in 4 2-3
innings, struck out four and walked two. The right-hander ended
last season on a three-game winning streak, but he never got
untracked against the Angels.

"There were a couple innings out there where I struggled,"
Chacon said. "For the most part, I thought I pitched decent."

The Yankees' only scoring opportunity came in the seventh. They
loaded the bases when J.C. Romero gave up consecutive walks to
Williams and Damon before Scot Shields replaced him and walked
Jeter. Shields then got Sheffield to ground into an inning-ending
double play.

"Their bullpen is pretty good," Jeter said. "Any guy they
throw out there doesn't put you in an ideal situation as a
hitter."

The Angels jumped on Chacon from the start. Chone Figgins led
off the first with a double.

"He's real distracting because he's one of the best
basestealers in the game," Chacon said. "That guy, when he's on
base to lead off innings, that's just trouble."

Cabrera followed with a homer into the left-field seats on a 2-2
pitch.

"I'm still baffled how he hit that pitch out," Chacon said.
"You tip your hat to him because I made the pitch I wanted to."

Cabrera thought Chacon's sinker was going to hit him.

"The ball was running into me. That's when I swung, really,"
he said. "I wasn't expecting it."

Darin Erstad's RBI single in the fourth made it 3-0.

New York scored its lone run on Damon's RBI double in the fifth.

Los Angeles extended its lead to 4-1 in the fifth on Juan
Rivera's two-out RBI single.

Game notes
Yankees DH Bernie Williams and 2B Robinson Cano switched
places in the batting order, with Cano moving up to eighth and
Williams dropping to ninth. Manager Joe Torre said he was trying
something new and had urged Williams to get more aggressive with
his bat. ... The Angels have won their last two season series with
the Yankees. ... The Angels improved to 20-26 in home openers,
having won their last three.