Figgins RBI single gives Angels 4-3 win over Yanks
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—The Los Angeles Angels keep soaring and the New York Yankees keep slipping. That trend continued this weekend as the AL West leaders completed their first three-game sweep of the Bronx Bombers at home since May 1995.
Chone Figgins hit an RBI single with one out in the ninth inning against closer Mariano Rivera, and the Angels beat the fading Yankees 4-3 on Sunday. The Halos have won five of seven meetings against the Yankees and host them for three more games next month.
“They’re a good team, obviously. It was a devastating series for us, but we’ve got to rebound,” Alex Rodriguez said after New York’s 10th loss in 15 games put them 8 1/2 games behind AL East-leading Tampa Bay and four games behind Boston in the wild card race.
“Every game is a playoff from now on. We’ve dug ourselves a huge hole, but we’ve got to come out fighting and play with a lot of urgency. We’ve been in this situation before, and we’re going to show what this team is made of.”
Howie Kendrick led off the ninth with a single against Damaso Marte (0-2). Gary Matthews Jr., who has only one sacrifice bunt since 2002, squared around twice before striking out. But Marte walked Mike Napoli and Figgins grounded Rivera’s first pitch into right field to end it.
“I never count that team out, but it just shows how well we’re playing right now,” Angels first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “It starts with the pitching. And today, we just found a way to score enough runs to win.”
Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez (2-2) entered the game in a 3-3 tie and struck out the side in the ninth to get the victory.
Andy Pettitte gave up three runs and 10 hits in seven-plus innings with three strikeouts and two walks. The Yankees got a scare in the sixth when Garret Anderson hit a line drive off Pettitte’s left leg. He recovered in time to throw Anderson out, then was allowed to make a couple of warmup pitches to test his push-off leg before continuing.
“It’s frustrating. I hate it that I wasn’t able to hold them down better than I did,” Pettitte said. “They figure out a way to win, and that’s what good teams do.”
Rodriguez lined a double off the fence in left-center with one out in the eighth against reliever Jose Arredondo and tried to steal third, but was thrown out by Napoli on a close play in the catcher’s second game off the disabled list. Rodriguez and manager Joe Girardi had a heated argument with umpire Bill Welke, but both stayed in the game.
“It was 100 percent the right move to make. I mean, on the road, you have to play to win,” Rodriguez said. “I had a good jump, the catcher made a perfect throw, I stole the base—and everyone knows that. The umpire had great position on it. He just simply missed it.”
Trailing 2-0, the Angels scored three in the third thanks in part to a bizarre balk by Pettitte. Matthews beat out an infield single to third, Napoli doubled and Matthews scored on another infield hit, as Figgins’ line drive back to the box caromed off Pettitte’s glove toward shortstop Derek Jeter, who had no play.
Napoli stayed frozen at second on Figgins’ hit, and first baseman Richie Sexson cheated about 15 feet up the line to guard against a possible bunt by Erick Aybar. But Pettitte made an unnecessary throw toward first to keep Figgins honest—and hit Sexson on the leg with it.
“That was my screwup,” Pettitte said. “I thought we had a pickoff play going with Richie and there was a serious miscommunication there. He was actually talking to Alex, and Alex was probably standing right behind me at third base. It screwed up the inning big-time.”
Pettitte was charged with a balk because, by rule, Sexson wasn’t in the vicinity of the bag when the pickoff attempt was made. Both runners advanced, and Aybar hit an RBI single before Teixeira put the Angels ahead with a sacrifice fly.
The balk was Pettitte’s first since Sept. 21, 2006, with the Astros.
The first inning was a tedious chore for Angels lefty Joe Saunders, who didn’t record an out until his 21st pitch. Johnny Damon started it off with a broken-bat infield single and Jeter worked out an 11-pitch walk. Napoli got crossed up on a 1-0 pitch to Bobby Abreu, resulting in a passed ball that advanced both runners, and Abreu lined the next delivery to center for an RBI single. Rodriguez followed with a run-scoring double.
The Yankees tied it 3-3 in the fourth when Rodriguez drew a leadoff walk and scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Robinson Cano. But the Yankees got only two more hits against Saunders, who struck out the side in the sixth.
“Joe came up big a couple of times,” Teixeira said. “I mean, he could have given up and let the Yankees get a few more runs, but he stepped up huge and kept us in the game.”
Rivera has allowed seven earned runs and 19 hits in 21 innings during 19 non-save situations. When a save is in sight, he has given up one earned run and 13 hits in 29 1-3 innings, converting all 28 opportunities. … Pettitte has picked off 10 runners this season and 91 in his career. … This was the fifth three-game series at Angel Stadium that completely sold out. … The Yankees are back at the “Big A” for a three-game series Sept. 8-10. … Anderson extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a second-inning single.