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October 22, 2009

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Sabathia, A-Rod power Yanks

ALEX Rodriguez homered in the third straight game of his outstanding postseason and C.C. Sabathia allowed just five hits over eight resilient innings on short rest as the New York Yankees beat the Los Angeles Angels 10-1 in Anaheim, California, on Tuesday to take a 3-1 lead in the American League championship series.

Rodriguez had three hits and scored three runs, while Melky Cabrera drove in four runs for the Yankees, who have built a commanding cushion in this series and are now potentially one game away from a return to the World Series.

One day after the Angels handed New York its first playoff loss in an extra-inning thriller, the Yankees calmly asserted control with two early rallies before piling on five runs late.

Johnny Damon added a late two-run homer for the Yankees, who could sew up their first trip to the World Series in six years with a win in Game 5 tomorrow at Angel Stadium. New York's A.J. Burnett faces Angels ace John Lackey.

With a two-run homer over the left-field fence that silenced an excited Anaheim crowd in the fifth, Rodriguez drove in a run in his eighth straight postseason game, tying the major league record. It was his fifth homer in New York's seven postseason games, matching Reggie Jackson's iconic 1977 effort for the second-most homers in a single playoff year for the Yankees.

Bernie Williams holds the New York record with six homers in 1996, but that mark seems ripe to be toppled by A-Rod in the first phenomenal postseason for a superstar who mostly sputtered in October until now.

Rodriguez also singled and scored New York's first run in the fourth, and he doubled and scored on an error in the ninth to cap his do-it-all day.

"You feel like the game is slowing down for you a little bit," said Rodriguez.

"It's been a while, certainly (since I felt this good). I feel liberated. This is the happiest I've been in a while."


After playing 24 innings over 9 1/2 hours and making a coast-to-coast flight over the previous three days, both teams needed a no-nonsense victory. Sabathia came through for the Yankees in his second win of the series, providing rest for New York's taxed bullpen while further frustrating Los Angeles' lineup, which is foundering in the playoffs after an outstanding regular season.

The Yankees' US$161 million left-hander yielded two walks and struck out five, throwing 101 pitches. Sabathia improved to 3-0 in the playoffs.

"We have Hall of Fame players on this team, it's a really good team. I just try to go out there every game and give us a chance to win. I feel really good, hopefully I can keep this going and we can win the whole thing."

Los Angeles starter Scott Kazmir left the game in the fifth having allowed four runs. Reliever Matt Palmer surrendered four runs in the last two innings. Los Angeles managed just five hits and one run on Kendry Morales' solo homer in the fifth.


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