Yankees nearly blow six-run lead in ninth

Joe Haakenson, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The way CC Sabathia pitched for eight innings Sunday afternoon, the last thing anyone expected was the drama of a showdown between two future Hall of Famers with the game on the line.
But that's exactly what happened at Angel Stadium, when the New York Yankees hung on for a 6-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Sabathia took a 6-0 lead into the ninth inning, three outs away from what would have been his first shutout in nearly two years. But he gave up a double to Mike Trout and walked Albert Pujols to begin the inning, prompting Yankees manager Joe Girardi to go to his bullpen.
David Robertson got the first out of the inning, but he also gave up an RBI single and a walk, so naturally, Girardi went to closer Mariano Rivera to finish it up.
Rivera got a standing ovation from the crowd as he entered the game, the fans knowing it was Rivera's final appearance in Anaheim. But while the fans were hospitable, the Angels hitters were not.
Rivera gave up an RBI groundout to Erick Aybar, a two-run single to Alberto Callaspo, a pinch-hit single by Brad Hawpe and an RBI single to Peter Bourjos that cut the Yankees lead to 6-5.
Rivera then walked Trout to load the bases, setting up a showdown with Pujols and the game on the line. Rivera won the battle of future Hall of Famers, as Pujols struck out when he was unable to check his swing for strike three.
"You've got the greatest closer of all time on the mound, so you feel pretty good about it," Girardi said. "It's not the situation you want to get to, 6-5, bases loaded, Albert Pujols up, but ... we did, and we got him out."
Rivera gave up the game-winning hit in the 18th inning of the Yankees' loss on Thursday in his final appearance in Oakland. But he was able to avoid another bitter going-away gift from the Angels.
"Get him out," Rivera said when asked his approach against Pujols. "There's no other way to put it."
Going into the game, Rivera had a career record of 3-4 with a 3.65 ERA and 27 saves in 55 games against the Angels. But he also has eight blown saves against the Angels, who made a strong push for No. 9.
"I'm trying to make pitches and I made my pitches and the balls just fell into place," Rivera said. "What can you do? That's why baseball is so special and unique. But we won, that's the most important thing."
Not many would have expected the need for Rivera the way Sabathia was pitching. He shut the Angels out on four hits going into the ninth before giving up the double to Trout and walk to Pujols. It was 6-0 when he left the game, but both baserunners eventually scored and he was charged with two runs.
"Sabathia had a good mix going, got out of the first inning and settled in," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We didn't have too many good looks at him."
It wasn't as smooth as they would have liked, but Sabathia (7-5) and the Yankees could settle for putting an end to their five-game losing streak and finishing their West Coast swing on a positive note, even though they lost six of 10 on the trip to Seattle, Oakland and Anaheim.
The Yankees gave Sabathia a big cushion in the third inning when they scored five times, sparked by Lyle Overbay's two-out, three-run home run off Angels starter Jered Weaver (1-3).
Jayson Nix had three hits and Brett Gardner had two as the Yankees had nine in all. The Yankees are a major league-best 21-0 when they score at least five runs in a game.
Weaver (1-3) gave up five runs and seven hits in six innings and got the loss.
"Today his velocity was there, he just had some issues trying to get the ball in zones he wanted," Scioscia said. "He missed up a lot, I think the leadoff walk in the third inning to (Chris) Stewart was indicative of some of the trouble he had. Weave usually makes those guys beat him, and unfortunately there was some walks that crept into his game this afternoon."
NOTES: Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira had an MRI on his right wrist Sunday, and the results showed inflammation, but no serious injury. He received a cortisone shot and will be re-evaluated in a few days. Teixeira missed the first two months of the season because of an injury suffered to the wrist during the spring. ... Vernon Wells began the day homerless since May 15, when he hit his 10th of the year. Since then, Wells is hitting .124 (12-for-97) with three doubles and three RBIs. ... Angels RF Josh Hamilton was not in the starting lineup Sunday against the Yankees because the Yankees had left-hander Sabathia on the mound. Hamilton is hitting .118 (2-for-17) with six strikeouts in his career against Sabathia. ... Angels RHP Joe Blanton will start for the Angels Tuesday against the Mariners. Blanton was skipped in the rotation the last time around, but was given the nod for Tuesday over RHP Jerome Williams, who returned to the bullpen. ... Pujols went into Sunday's game against the Yankees riding a season-long six-game hitting streak, during which he hit .440 (11 for 25) with two homers and six RBIs. Pujols went 0-for-4 with a walk on Sunday.

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