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October 19, 2009

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Yankees outlast Angels in marathon

THE New York Yankees capitalized on a wild throw in the 13th inning to overcome a mistake-prone Los Angeles Angels 4-3 in New York on Saturday and open a 2-0 lead in their American League championship series.

One night after the Angels made three errors to help New York win the series opener, Los Angeles self-destructed again.

Second baseman Maicer Izturis darted to his left to snare a Melky Cabrera blast with men on first and second and one out, but his throw to second got past shortstop Erick Aybar and allowed Jerry Hairston Jr to score the winning run.

Hairston had led off the 13th with a pinch-hit single to center and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brett Gardner. Reliever Ervin Santana intentionally walked Robinson Cano to set up a force and bring Cabrera to the plate.

Alex Rodriguez had earlier given New York a second life with a solo homer in the 11th off closer Brian Fuentes to tie the game 3-3 after Los Angeles took the lead in the top half of the inning and looked poised to tie the best-of-seven set.

"It was a great game to manage," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who used eight pitchers and nearly every player on his roster in the five-hour 10-minute game played in a cold wind with rain falling late in the game. "I'm wiped out right now."

The error by Izturis was as much a mental mistake as a physical one, since he had a much easier play to register an out at first base and the only baserunner that mattered was Hairston, who was already ensured third base.

"I think he was trying to make a little too much of that play," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

"You're not going to turn two (make a double-play).

"You just want to get an out there. Izzy just tried to do too much."

The Angels, who had rallied from a 0-2 deficit with a pair of fifth-inning runs, looked likely to level the series when Chone Figgins snapped an 0-for-18 postseason drought with a run-scoring single in the 11th for a 3-2 Los Angeles lead.

But Rodriguez, who saved the Yankees in the second game of the division series sweep against Minnesota with a two-run, game-tying homer in the ninth, did it again by lining an 0-2 pitch over the fence in right off Fuentes.

"I'm just trying to stay in the moment and really enjoy the moment," Rodriguez, baseball's highest paid player, said about his postseason heroics after years of criticism that he failed to deliver in the biggest games.

"I know I had a blast out there today."

Both teams squandered chances to score in the late innings, and Los Angeles stranded 16 men on base.

Los Angeles clean-up hitter Guerrero, who struck out with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, grounded out in the top of the 13th with men on second and third and two outs.

Derek Jeter homered in the third inning to put himself alone in third place on the postseason home run list with 19.

The Angels tied it 2-2 in the fifth. Aybar singled home Izturis, who had led off the fifth with a double, for the visitors' first run. A hit batsman, a walk and a wild pitch by Yankee starter A J Burnett allowed Aybar to cross home plate.

The series shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3 tomorrow morning (Shanghai time), with Jered Weaver expected to start for the Angels against New York left-hander Andy Pettitte.


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