Angels 4, Yankees 1

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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.


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.

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