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Rapid Reaction: Yankees 4, Angels 3

4/26/2014

NEW YORK -- With three RBIs from rookie catcher John Ryan Murphy and 4⅔ scoreless innings from the bullpen, the New York Yankees evened their series with the Los Angeles Angels with a 4-3 Saturday afternoon win at Yankee Stadium.

Murphy's two-run single tied the game in the second inning, and his first career home run gave the Yankees the lead in the fifth.

Big day for the pen: For the third time in the past four days, the Yankees' bullpen was called on early in the game. The results Saturday were good, with four relievers combining to get 14 outs without allowing a run.

Manager Joe Girardi used Dellin Betances (first career win), Shawn Kelley, Matt Thornton and David Robertson in relief of starter Vidal Nuno. The innings weren't all clean (the Angels had runners in scoring position in the seventh, eighth and ninth) but the Angels never did score the tying run.

Bartman in the Bronx? The ninth inning would have been easier if not for a fan near the Yankees' dugout who helped keep Mark Teixeira from catching an Albert Pujols popup with one out and the tying run on base. Robertson eventually retired Pujols on a fly ball to left, but he had to throw six extra pitches to the dangerous Pujols. So maybe this wasn't Steve Bartman, who interfered with Moises Alou at Wrigley Field in the 2003 playoffs.

Kelley responds: It seemed like a meaningless and unnecessary pitching change when Girardi brought Kelley into Friday night's game with two out in the ninth inning and the Yankees down 12-1. But Girardi explained that Kelley had wanted to pitch, since he hadn't been in a game since last Sunday.

There's no way to know whether the three batters Kelley ended up facing Friday helped him in a key spot in the seventh inning Saturday. It didn't look like it when the first six pitches he threw were all out of the strike zone.

But after walking Mike Trout on four pitches and falling behind Pujols 2-0, Kelley got Pujols on a short fly ball to left, then struck out Howie Kendrick to end the Angels' threat and preserve a Yankee lead.

A first for Murphy: Murphy was never a big home run hitter in the minor leagues (his high in any one season was 13, last season), but his first big league homer was both well-struck and well-timed. Murphy blasted Hector Santiago's first pitch of the fifth inning over the left-field fence to break a 3-3 tie.

Murphy has made just three big league starts this season, but he was in the lineup Saturday as Brian McCann got the day game off after catching Friday night. The Yankees also won Murphy's first two starts this season.

Nuno so-so: Left-hander Nuno will need to be better if he hopes to hold onto the rotation spot that fell to him when Ivan Nova was lost to Tommy John surgery. Nuno gave up a first-inning Trout home run, and when the Yankees came back to hand him a 3-1 lead in the second inning, Nuno couldn't hold it.

Girardi said pregame he was willing to let Nuno throw 80-85 pitches, but with Nuno's pitch count at 72 and Pujols due to bat in the fifth, Girardi decided that was enough.

Shift problems: The Yankees' defensive shifts didn't work as planned Saturday. Pujols had two singles that went through the exact same spot on the infield. Then, with a runner on, one out and a one-run Yankees lead in the eighth, the shift basically handed Ian Stewart a bunt single, putting the tying run in scoring position.

What's next: The Yankees and Angels close out the series with an appearance on "Sunday Night Baseball." Masahiro Tanaka (3-0, 2.15 ERA) makes his fifth start. Right-hander Garrett Richards starts for the Angels, with first pitch set for 8:05 p.m.