Yankees 8, Angels 7

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NEW YORK (AP)—Francisco Rodriguez looked tired, and he was having trouble throwing strikes. The New York Yankees’ patient hitters only made things harder on him.

Hideki Matsui’s two-run double in the ninth inning capped a big comeback, and New York took advantage of four walks by Rodriguez to beat the Los Angeles Angels 8-7 Saturday.

“That’s what we do best. We take our walks, and eventually somebody’s got to be pitched to,” Jason Giambi said.

Bernie Williams and Giambi homered for the Yankees, who got a stellar debut from starter Shawn Chacon and defeated the Angels for only the third time in nine meetings this season.

Juan Rivera connected for the AL West leaders and Paul Byrd threw seven solid innings, but Los Angeles’ normally dependable bullpen blew a 7-3 lead in the last two innings—perhaps Thursday’s 18-inning loss in Toronto took a toll.

Giambi’s two-run shot off Jake Woods in the eighth cut it to 7-5, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia brought in Rodriguez with one out.

“We were a little bit short today. Frankie was a little bit extended, and you’ve got to give them credit, it just got away from him,” Scioscia said. “He’s our guy, and he had enough in him to get through that inning.”

Pitching for the third straight day, Rodriguez got out of the eighth with no trouble but began to fade in the ninth. The hard-throwing right-hander walked his first two batters before striking out Robinson Cano. Gary Sheffield then walked, and another free pass to Alex Rodriguez made it 7-6.

Francisco Rodriguez (2-2) threw his 36th pitch of the game to Matsui, who lined it into left-center. It was Rodriguez’s fourth blown save in 29 chances this season, and second in three days.

“It was a disaster. I don’t think they beat me, I think I beat myself. I felt fine. My velocity was there. I just had no command in the ninth inning,” he said. “You feel like you can’t control your body, can’t control your arm.”

Mariano Rivera (5-2) struck out Darin Erstad and Vladimir Guerrero in a perfect ninth.

Orlando Cabrera hit a go-ahead single in a four-run seventh for the Angels, and Juan Rivera added a two-run homer in the eighth off Tom Gordon. But Los Angeles lost for the fifth time in six games overall and dropped to 6-2 in its last eight at Yankee Stadium dating to last year.

“They play us tough. Their bullpen is usually lights out against us,” Giambi said. “So it was good that we actually scored some runs against their bullpen. It was a big win for us in that sense.”

Chacon provided some hope for New York’s injury-riddled pitching staff, throwing six impressive innings in a sparkling Yankees debut. Yet another newcomer, reliever Alan Embree, made a key throwing error that led to the Angels’ four-run seventh.

With Los Angeles trailing 3-1, pinch-hitter Jeff DaVanon drew a leadoff walk from Felix Rodriguez. Embree, who signed with the Yankees late Friday night and took a redeye flight from Portland, Ore., to arrive by gametime, gave up a bloop single to Adam Kennedy.

Speedy leadoff batter Chone Figgins sacrificed, and Embree’s rushed throw to first skipped past Cano and into the stands for an error that allowed a run to score.

“I started to trip, actually, and I let go of the ball. It was a bad play,” Embree said. “I wanted to come here, then you make your debut and get tagged with the `L’, that’s not how you want to start. These guys bailed me out. But that’s the lineup I’m used to seeing.”

Cabrera followed with a two-run single off Gordon. He moved up on a groundout and Gordon’s balk, then scored on Guerrero’s RBI grounder to make it 5-3.

“We turned over every rock in that inning to do everything wrong we could possibly do,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Derek Jeter hit a two-run double, and Williams’ sixth-inning homer gave New York a 3-1 lead.

Figgins scored the Angels’ first run on Jorge Posada’s passed ball.

Pitching on short rest because Jarrod Washburn has a sore elbow, Byrd allowed three runs and nine hits.

“I don’t need four days,” Byrd said. “I don’t throw hard enough to need four days.”

Chacon did not give up an earned run during a strong audition for a long-term spot in the rotation. Acquired from Colorado on Wednesday for two Double-A pitchers, he became the 13th starter used by the Yankees this season— and the 10th this month. The last time they sent 10 starters to the mound in a month was August 1959.

Chacon came out to warm up before the seventh, then was removed to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 54,220. But the bullpen cost him his first win since April 23.

“Once I got the first pitch out of the way, it was game on, and I really felt good. It was a lot of fun,” Chacon said.

Notes

Woods was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room for RHP Chris Bootcheck, who will be recalled from Salt Lake to start Sunday against LHP Randy Johnson. … Embree was released by Boston on Friday. … The crowd cheered when Mariano Rivera buzzed Guerrero up and in on consecutive pitches. … Francisco Rodriguez fell to 5-for-6 in save opportunities against New York this year.

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