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October 18, 2009

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Yankees take Angels opener

THE New York Yankees used the strong pitching of CC Sabathia, some deft hitting and two gift runs to beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-1 in the American League championship series opener at Yankee Stadium on Friday.

Sabathia gave up just four hits in eight innings and closer Mariano Rivera sealed the victory that gave the Yankees a 1-0 edge in the best-of-seven series.

Two of New York's runs were unearned as the usually sure-handed Angels made three errors and let what should have been an inning-ending infield pop up drop for a run-scoring single on a cold, blustery night in the Bronx.

"I think the story of the night is really CC's command of both sides of the plate and his ability to change speeds," Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters. "He really pitched a great ball game for them."

Yankees skipper Joe Girardi praised his big left-hander.

"Tremendous," said Girardi. "He was sensational."

Sabathia, serenaded by chants of "CC, CC," from the crowd of nearly 50,000, struck out seven and walked one.

"That was a great feeling to have the stadium rocking and chanting my name and to be able to get a strikeout," he said about striking out Mike Napoli to end a seventh-inning threat.

Earlier, the Los Angeles Dodgers leveled their series for the National League pennant at 1-1 by beating the visiting Philadelphia Phillies 2-1.

Shut out on two hits for seven innings by Pedro Martinez, the Dodgers came back against Philadelphia's bullpen. They cobbled it together with second baseman Chase Utley's throwing error, a bunt, a single by pinch-hitter Jim Thome and two walks.

The Yankees had 10 hits in the game, including two each from Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui against Angels starter John Lackey.

Back in the ALCS for the first time in five years, New York built a 2-0 lead in the first by taking advantage of a throwing error by left fielder Juan Rivera and a popup by Matsui that fell between third baseman Chone Figgins and shortstop Erick Aybar, who each thought the other would snag it.

After Kendry Morales' fourth-inning single cut the deficit in half, Matsui doubled in a run in the fifth to make it 3-1. Lackey's throwing error on a pickoff attempt allowed Melky Cabrera to take second in the sixth, and Derek Jeter followed with a run-scoring single that got by Torii Hunter.


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