Angels 12, Yankees 7

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—The Yankees came into Angel Stadium for a weekend series, hoping to do some severe damage to Los Angeles’ playoff hopes. So far, the Angels are continuing to play well against New York.

Rookie Howie Kendrick went 4-for-4 with a tiebreaking homer, Garret Anderson homered and drove in four runs and the Los Angeles Angels beat slumping Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees 12-7 in a testy matchup Saturday.

The Angels, trying to stay close in a bid for their third straight AL West title, improved to 55-51 against New York since Joe Torre became its manager in 1996. They are the only team to hold an edge over the Yankees in that span, and also have beaten them in two playoff series.

“We might have won a couple more games over the years, but I think `equally matched’ is probably a good term to use,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I mean, I’d hate to play them 162 times, but we’ve held our own against them. Anytime you have a bullpen like that and some guys who can swing the bats, you’re going to hold your own with a lot of clubs.”

Ervin Santana (13-6) allowed five runs and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings, good enough to help send the Yankees to their fourth loss in five games following their draining five-game sweep at Boston. Torre expressed concern when the series began about whether his team could maintain that intense level of play during this six-game West Coast trip.

“It’s always difficult over 162 games, but at this time of year it shouldn’t be difficult,” Derek Jeter said. “I’m talking about getting up for games and being ready to go every day. That shouldn’t be an issue now. It is natural to have some sort of a letdown, but I don’t think that’s the reason why we’ve been getting beat.

“We’ve been playing good, but we’ve just been getting beat. It’s not like we gave them anything. Anaheim always plays us tough, so it’s not like we’re going through the motions.”

The Angels and Yankees drew warnings from plate umpire Tim McClelland after a flurry of brushback pitches and hit batsmen in the middle innings. Both teams were perched on the top step of their dugouts after that, and there were no more incidents.

The trouble began after Jeter was hit by a pitch above the left arm in the fifth, the second straight day he was plunked. In the bottom half, Bruney sent Vladimir Guerrero bailing out of the batter’s box with an up-and-in pitch. One out later, Bruney threw a pitch behind Rivera.

“Everybody needs to be protected,” Bruney said. “These guys go to war for us every day, so you’ve got to protect every one of your guys. Obviously he was upset, but that’s baseball.”

Rivera took offense and glared at Bruney, who was called up from the minors Wednesday when Mike Mussina went on the disabled list. Catcher Sal Fasano and McClelland calmed down Rivera, and both sides were warned.

“Sal Fasano told me it was all related to Derek Jeter,” Rivera said through an interpreter. “I told Fasano, ‘It’s not like Ervin Santana was trying to hit Derek Jeter.”’

Torre tweaked his batting order, putting Rodriguez in the second spot for the first time this season. The two-time MVP went 0-for-5 and struck out three times; the previous night, Rodriguez was 0-for-5 and fanned four times in a 6-5 loss.

Rodriguez has struck out 13 times in his last 23 at-bats. When asked if A-Rod would be in the two hole on Sunday, Torre said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ll probably come up with another brainstorm.”

Francisco Rodriguez got four outs for his 36th save after Scot Shields gave up two-run homer by Johnny Damon in the eighth. Melky Cabrera flied out to the warning track with the bases loaded to end the game.

Guerrero got three hits for the second straight game and drove in two runs. His RBI triple triggered a three-run seventh that gave the Angels a 9-5 lead. Rivera added an RBI double during a three-run eighth—and clapped his hands while running toward first base.

Anderson put the Angels ahead 3-1 in the third with his 13th homer, off Cory Lidle. The right-hander allowed five runs and nine hits over 3 2-3 innings, and was the second straight Yankees starter who failed to get through the fourth inning following Randy Johnson’s complete-game loss at Seattle on Thursday night.

Yankees slugger Jason Giambi, who hit a two-run double in the fifth, left for a pinch-hitter in the seventh because of cramping in both hands and was given fluids intravenously in the clubhouse.

“He was cramped up in his legs, his arms and his legs—the whole nine yards. He was a mummy down there,” Torre said.

Notes

Famed UCLA basketball coach John Wooden visited Torre in the clubhouse before the game. … Time was called one pitch into Robinson Cano’s at-bat in the fifth, and someone from the Yankees dugout brought him something to drink. Turns out Cano had a sunflower seed stuck in his throat. … Torre said he doesn’t expect to use eight-time All-Star closer Mariano Rivera for more than one inning in any game the rest of the way.

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