Dodgers 5, Yankees 4
After working the count to 2-2, the NL Cy Young winner challenged A-Rod with a fastball down the middle, and the AL MVP swung through it.
“It was a fun at-bat. He just beat me fair and square,” Rodriguez said. “That’s what makes him so good. He has a lot in his repertoire to get you out with and he throws strikes. It was a fun challenge.”
Gagne then finished for his major league-record 81st straight save, preserving Los Angeles’ 5-4 win over New York on Sunday.
“Gagne’s fun to watch if you’re not sitting in our dugout,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
Gagne gave up a homer to Jason Giambi leading off the ninth before getting his second save of the series between teams that have met 11 times in the World Series, but not since 1981.
“With all the hype and all the buildup, it played itself out to a T,” Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. “It was a terrific series. It was great for our young players to get a taste of what it’s like three months down the road.”
The Yankees lost their first series since dropping two of three at Texas on May 21-23.
“Other than that, it was a good series,” Derek Jeter said. “It was fun to come here. I enjoyed it.”
“It feels good when you beat the Yankees because of the tradition between these two ballclubs,” Lima said. “We got the best bullpen in baseball so I don’t panic.”
The matchup of division leaders set a franchise weekend attendance record of 165,240. Sunday’s game drew 55,157, third-most in Dodger Stadium history. Friday night’s game attracted the largest crowd of 55,207.
“You couldn’t even hear yourself out there,” Dodgers catcher Paul Lo Duca said. “I thought Friday was loud, but tonight was louder. It was awesome.”
After Gagne gave up a homer to Giambi, the fourth the closer has allowed this season, he retired Gary Sheffield on a groundout, Jorge Posada on a flyout to left and struck out Matsui looking to end it for his 18th save of the season.
“The intensity was great,” Torre said. “I still look at these games as exhibition games. I know they count in the standings, but I think the players appreciated the energy that came out of this weekend. We’re just sorry about losing two out of three.”
The Yankees cut their deficit to 4-3 in the seventh on Matsui’s two-out RBI triple off reliever Tom Martin. Giambi led off with a single off Lima (5-3), took second on Sheffield’s single and moved to third when Posada hit into a double play.
Dave Roberts doubled and sped all the way home when Matsui misplayed the ball in left field for a two-base error, giving the Dodgers a 5-3 lead in the bottom half. The ball bounced past Matsui on the rubber warning track and he chased it down near the Dodgers’ bullpen.
“I was thinking two. I saw the ball get by him and at that point, I was thinking four,” Roberts said. “There was a lot of silence when I was running and then an eruption when I got to home plate.”
Green led off the second with his ninth homer on a 3-1 count from Jose Contreras (4-3). A sacrifice fly by Juan Encarnacion drove in Lo Duca, who doubled and took third on a single by Adrian Beltre. A two-out single by Roberts scored Beltre and Alex Cora, who singled, giving the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.
“He gave up the four runs and then he gave me the impression that he was really determined,” Torre said. “That’s something that’s a good plus for him. It looks like his confidence is coming back a little at a time.”
The Yankees made it 4-2 in the third with consecutive homers by Matsui, who led off with a drive to left center, and Cairo, whose second of the season landed in the Dodgers’ bullpen.
Lima gave up three runs on five hits in six-plus innings, struck out two and walked none in beating the Yankees for just the second time in his career. He tipped his cap while walking off to a standing ovation.
“He just threw strikes. He forced them to put the ball in play,” Lo Duca said. “The second home run was the only mistake he made. He makes your defense better because he works quick. It’s fun to watch him go.”
Contreras allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings, struck out fiveand walked none for the first time as a starter.
The Dodgers improved to 13-5 in one-run games, best in the majors. The Yankees are second-best at 13-7. … Kobe Bryant, dressed in a Dodgers cap and Yankees jersey, sat behind home plate with his arm draped around wife Vanessa and 1 1/2 -year-old daughter Natalia in his lap. Jack Nicholson sat in the front row wearing a bright yellow Yankees cap. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt dropped a Dodger hat in his lap and Nicholson got booed when he gingerly picked it up with two fingers, wrinkled his nose and tossed it into the next seat. … Gagne’s 125th save tied Jim Brewer for third on the Dodgers’ career save list. … Matsui and Cairo’s homers marked the fifth time the Yankees have gone back-to-back this season. It was the team’s ninth multihomer inning thisseason.