NEW YORK -- Leading into Thursday, Chris Nelson had experienced a difficult series against an opponent he had a limited tenure with.
On Monday, he struck out with the bases loaded for the final out against David Robertson. A night later, he was ruled to have left third base too early on a game-tying sacrifice fly.
It was shaping up to be another tough day for Nelson when he struck out in his first at-bat. But then he had two of the best swings of a season that has seen him play for three teams, highlighting his first career multi-home run game with an eighth-inning grand slam as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim salvaged the finale of their four-game series at Yankee Stadium with an 8-4 victory over the New York Yankees.
"That was probably tough, but I learned from it," Nelson said. "I learned how to slow it down and when the opportunity comes again, hopefully it will be different results."
"He hurt us bad today," New York manager Joe Girardi said.
Nelson, who had 36 at-bats in 10 games for the Yankees in May, also hit a solo home run in the fourth inning against New York starter Phil Hughes (4-12). That was Nelson's first home run since Sept. 14 and it capped a 10-pitch at-bat after he fouled off the previous four pitches.
It also came after struck out on a similar pitch in his first at-bat.
"He struck me out before pretty much on a fastball up and away a little bit and I just battled my way back to a hitters count again," Nelson said. "I got a good pitch to hit.
"I started off with a strikeout and I definitely had to make some adjustments. This is a game of adjustments. I had to think along with the pitchers.
Nelson got another good pitch to hit in the eighth but did not have to wait as long against left-handed reliever Boone Logan. After taking a slider for strike one, Nelson drove the next slider into the left field seats.
"It was just a fun game for me today," Nelson said. "I really enjoyed it. We got the win and I got a couple of hits to go along with it. It was just a good game."
"He's got some pop and he's showed it this year in the 100 or so at-bats that he's had," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. "You saw it today and hopefully it's a sign of more to come because there's no doubt he can drive the ball."
It also was fun for the rest of the Angels, who snapped a four-game losing streak and won or the sixth time in their last 20 games.
Besides contributing the home runs, Nelson also started a key inning-ending double play against former Angel Vernon Wells in the third.
That played a key role in starter C.J. Wilson (13-6) being able to pitch 6 2/3 innings. Wilson allowed one run despite allowing 11 hits while throwing 124 pitches and holding the Yankees to one hit in their final eight at-bats with men on base.
"I was lucky to give up mostly singles and that prevented them from having the big innings because it was guys on first, guys on second instead of guys on second and third every time," Wilson said.
Wilson's most challenging inning was the third when he gave up four hits. He loaded the bases by allowing singles to Alfonso Soriano, Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez but ended the threat with an inning-ending double play to former Angel Vernon Wells.
Wilson threw 16 pitches in the seventh and left with a runner on first after Soriano had singled to left with one out. After retiring Cano, Rodriguez flied out to center against Kevin Jepsen before the Angels scored five in the eighth.
The Angels used four other relievers after Jepsen and had the tying run on deck after Dane De La Rosa gave up a two-out, two-run double to Wells and walked Curtis Granderson. But Eduardo Nunez grounded out to end it.
Josh Hamilton, Hank Conger and rookie Grant Green also drove in runs for the Angels. Hamilton had an RBI single in the first inning, Conger preceded Nelson's first home run by lifting a sacrifice fly and Green added an RBI double off Joba Chamberlain.
Hughes dropped his fifth straight decision, allowing three runs and six hits in six innings. He also lost or the 10th time in 12 decisions spanning the last three months.
Soriano had four hits for the Yankees, who had a four-game winning streak stopped and dropped six games behind Tampa Bay for the second wild-card spot in the American League. The Rays were hosting Seattle Thursday night.
NOTES: LHP David Huff was added to New York's roster and the club optioned RHP Dellin Betances to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. To make room on the 40-man roster, RHP David Phelps was moved to the 60-day disabled list. Phelps has been on the DL since July 6 with a strained right forearm. ... SS Derek Jeter headed to Tampa to continue his recovery from a calf injury at the team's minor league complex. The Yankees do not expect him to be activated Sunday. ... Angels OF Mike Trout has reached base safely in 37 straight games, the longest active streak in baseball and the second longest in team history. ... Wilson was the sixth pitcher in Angels history to allow one run despite giving up at least 11 hits.