Playoff Series: Game 2 of 5

LA Angels leads 3-2 (as of 10/5)

Game 1: Tuesday, October 4
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Game 2: Wednesday, October 5
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Game 3: Friday, October 7
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Game 4: Saturday, October 8
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NY Yankees
Game 4: Sunday, October 9
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Game 5: Monday, October 10
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10:00 PM ET, October 5, 2005

Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, California 

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NYY 010010001 3 6 2
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W: K. Escobar (1-0)

L: C. Wang (0-1)

S: F. Rodriguez (1)

Timely hitting pulls Angels even with Yanks

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- When their offense failed them this season, the Los Angeles Angels scratched out victories with strong pitching and sparkling defense.

Game 2 Breakdown
Unsung Hero
Juan Rivera. The former Yankee came back to haunt New York by hitting a leadoff home run in the bottom of the fifth -- the Angels' first run of the game -- and also led off the seventh by reaching on an infield single. He was lifted for a pinch-runner after that play, but Jeff DaVanon -- the pinch-runner -- came around to score the go-ahead run for the Angels later in the inning.

Alex Rodriguez. His error on a routine chopper to third base by Orlando Cabrera leading off the bottom of the sixth put the tying run on first base. Cabrera later in the inning came in to score on an RBI single by Bengie Molina, knotting the game at 2-2. The Yankees, who led 2-1 entering the inning, never regained the lead.

Turning Point
The Angels put runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the seventh without hitting a ball out of the infield -- an infield single by Rivera and consecutive sacrifice bunts by Steve Finley (he reached first after Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang fielded the bunt and threw wildly to first) and Adam Kennedy. Two batters later, Cabrera followed with a two-run single to left-center to put the Angels ahead 4-2.

Important Stat
Being tied 1-1 in a series isn't anything new to the Yankees as they split the first two games of their Division Series last year against the Twins. The Yanks went on to then beat the Twins in Games 3 and 4 in Minnesota to close out the series.

On Deck
The series shifts to Yankee Stadium for Game 3 on Friday. Paul Byrd will pitch for the Angels. The soft-tossing righty had his best month of the regular season in September, going 3-2 with a 2.25 ERA in six starts. Randy Johnson will start for the Yankees. He was 11-2 with a 3.13 ERA in 18 starts at home in the regular season.

That combination worked again Wednesday night against the Yankees in the AL playoffs, and this time they also got a few key hits.

Orlando Cabrera, Bengie Molina and the Angels' slick gloves helped Los Angeles pull even with the New York.

Cabrera scored the tying run after a costly error by Alex Rodriguez and hit a go-ahead single, Molina got two big hits and the Angels beat the Yankees 5-3 to tie their best-of-five, first-round series at one game apiece.

"On the offensive side, we didn't have many hits, but they all counted," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We caught a break with that ball [by A-Rod]. I think the lights got Alex at third base. ... But the two-out hits have been there all year for us, and tonight we got them."

New York went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position -- 0-for-8 after Robinson Cano doubled in the first run -- and made three errors that led to three unearned runs.

"It's costly," Rodriguez said. "In postseason, you can't make mistakes. You kind of knew that once that play wasn't made, they were going to score somehow -- even after two outs. That was as routine of a play as it could get. I looked down and I couldn't believe it wasn't in my glove. But you have to move on. You can't dwell on it."

The Angels, in contrast, saved one or two runs with their gloves.

Now the series shifts to Yankee Stadium, where Randy Johnson starts for New York on Friday night against Paul Byrd. The Big Unit flew back early to get ready.

With New York leading 2-0 on Cano's second-inning double and Gary Sheffield's RBI grounder in the fifth, Angels third baseman Chone Figgins dived toward the foul line to make a backhanded stop on a hard-hit ball by Hideki Matsui to end the fifth with Jason Giambi on third.

Juan Rivera homered leading off the bottom half against Chien-Ming Wang, the first Taiwanese player to start a postseason game.

Then, with Bernie Williams on second base in the sixth, Jorge Posada hit a grounder down the first-base line that Gold Glove first baseman Darin Erstad knocked down and flipped to pitcher John Lackey, who went to his knees at first to make the grab with his back to the plate. Williams was stranded when Derek Jeter grounded out against Scot Shields.

"Give those guys credit," said Rodriguez, 0-for-5 in the series and 2-for-22 in his last six playoff games. "Figgins made one of the greatest plays I've ever seen, and Erstad made another great play."

Los Angeles tied the score in the bottom of the sixth when Rodriguez let Cabrera's leadoff bouncer hit off the webbing of his glove for an error, and Molina singled Cabrera home with two outs. The rally monkey the Angels so relied on throughout their 2002 title run immediately began jumping around on the big screen.

"We definitely needed to get one here," said Lackey, who made his first postseason start since winning Game 7 of the 2002 World Series. "It's a tough place to play back there, although we're definitely not intimidated."

The Angels went ahead in the seventh on Cabrera's two-out, two-run single off Wang, and Molina homered in the eighth off Al Leiter -- Molina's second homer in as many nights -- to make it 5-2.

"Bengie Molina is probably one of the best clutch hitters in baseball," Figgins said. "He always seems to get it done."

Posada hit a solo homer in the ninth against Francisco Rodriguez, who got his first postseason save. That was the only hit off the Angels' bullpen, with Kelvim Escobar pitching two hitless innings between Shields and Rodriguez for the victory.

Figgins might not be wreaking havoc on the basepaths as he typically does due to an 0-for-8 start in the series with three strikeouts, but the Angels used bunts and speed to go ahead.

Rivera, a former Yankee, reached on a gutsy infield single leading off the seventh. He hit a high chopper to Jeter at shortstop and nearly stumbled before sliding safely headfirst into the bag.

Jeff DaVanon entered to pinch run, and Scioscia hustled out of the dugout to give instructions to Steve Finley, who bunted and reached when Wang's throw pulled Cano off the first-base bag for an error.

Adam Kennedy sacrificed the runners to second and third and, after Figgins flied out to short center, Cabrera lined the next pitch to left-center to put the Angels ahead. Cabrera hit safely in every game of the 2004 AL Championship Series to help the Red Sox beat the Yankees in seven games and go on to win the World Series.

The Yankees won Tuesday night's opener 4-2 by beating 21-game winner Bartolo Colon, but the Angels bounced back -- just as they did after losing the opener of each series on the way to the franchise's first championship three years ago.

Manager Joe Torre chose Wang over Game 4 starter Shawn Chacon because Wang had faced the Angels already this season and Torre figured he'd earned this chance. The rookie right-hander went at least six innings in 15 of his 17 starts, recording his first major league win May 10 against Seattle.

Wang retired the first five Angels on groundballs before Erstad singled in the second. Cabrera's flyball to right in the third was the first out recorded by an outfielder as Wang efficiently made his way through the order.

"He made a couple of mental mistakes, and both of them were up in the zone," said Posada, the catcher. "One of them was Bengie Molina's base hit with a man on second base and the other was second and third with Cabrera. You take those two away and he's got a heck of a ballgame. He gave us a chance to win, but we didn't score for him."

Game notes

A-Rod made 12 errors in the regular season. ... The Florida Marlins received permission from the Yankees to interview bench coach Joe Girardi for their managerial opening. ... Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero went 0-for-3 and was plunked in the lower left side in the fourth. He was 1-for-3 with a walk in the series opener. ... The ceremonial first pitch was handled by Chuck Finley, Mark Langston and Jim Abbott -- the last trio of Angels pitchers to record 200 or more innings in the same season (1992) before Lackey, Bartolo Colon and Paul Byrd accomplished the feat this season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press