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October 24, 2009

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Angels top Yanks to stay alive

THE Los Angeles Angels staved off elimination from the playoffs with a gutsy 7-6 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the American League championship series in Anaheim, California, on Thursday.

Trailing 4-6, the Angels scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh behind RBI singles from Vladimir Guerrero and Kendry Morales to regain the lead after the powerful Yankees lineup had plundered six runs in the top half of the inning.

Regular starter Jered Weaver came on in relief to pitch a scoreless eighth while Los Angeles closer Brian Fuentes survived a bases-loaded threat in the ninth with two outs before Nick Swisher popped up for the last out.

"It was very intense, my adrenaline was running like a Lamborghini," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter told reporters of the last out. "We just keep scratching, that's what we do."

New York leads the best-of-seven series 3-2 and will be hoping to advance to a World Series match-up against the Philadelphia Phillies with a Game 6 victory at home tomorrow.

The defending champions Phillies clinched the National League championship series over the Los Angeles Dodgers by a 4-1 margin on Wednesday.

New York looked poised to finish off the ALCS and make its first World Series appearance since 2003 after erasing a 0-4 deficit in the top of the seventh. Mark Teixeira led the charge with a bases-clearing double for the Yankees to make it 4-3, Hideki Matsui tied the game with a single and Robinson Cano drilled a two-RBI triple to put New York two runs ahead.

However, the resilient Angels banished the memories of a humiliating 1-10 defeat in Game 4 on Tuesday by fighting back in front of a raucous home crowd to send the teams back to the Big Apple.

"We're in a situation where we know what we're up against, where we know we have to play good baseball," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's not a forgiving team over there."

Los Angeles jumped ahead with four runs in the first inning as Hunter belted a two-RBI single before Guerrero and Morales followed with RBI hits against New York starter A J Burnett, who allowed six runs in six innings.

Hunter, Guerrero and Morales powered the way with two hits and two RBI each, and catcher Jeff Mathis was 3-for-4 and ran off a club playoff-record streak of six hits in six at-bats.

The Angels maintained their early advantage behind starter John Lackey, who struck out seven batters and worked smoothly through the New York lineup before running into trouble in the seventh.

Lackey left the game with two outs and the bases loaded before the potent Yankees got the best of the Angels bullpen.

New York Captain Derek Jeter recorded a single and has a hit in all of New York's postseason games, while red-hot Alex Rodriguez had a double and two walks.

Phil Hughes was charged with the loss for New York, having allowed two run-scoring hits in the seventh.

"I feel like it's resting on my shoulders," Hughes said. "When you don't come through and do your job... Tonight I just couldn't execute pitches the way that I wanted."


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