Wright had another sweet but relatively short start Saturday,
overcoming early wildness and riding second-inning home runs by
Robinson Cano and Johnny Damon in the New York Yankees' 5-2 win
over the Los Angeles Angels.
"He was kind of all over the place," Damon said, "and he kind
of really figured it out."
Wright (9-6) walked four for the second straight start but
allowed one run for his third outing in a row. He fell behind on
Juan Rivera's RBI single in the first, then allowed just one other
hit before Scott Proctor relieved with one out in the sixth.
"We're sort of used to it," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
"He doesn't crack. He keeps his senses about him."
While Wright won just four of his first 13 starts, he is 5-1 in
seven starts since. However, he does tax New York's bullpen --
Wright hasn't pitched more than six innings this year and has
thrown 100 pitches in just one start.
After Chone Figgins took his first pitch of the day for a
strike, Wright threw seven straight balls. His inconsistency makes
it hard to evaluate his performance.
"It depends on what you're looking at, I guess," Wright said.
"The ultimate goal is to keep the game close, and then hopefully
you can get a win. But if you look at walking Figgins to lead off
the game, that's an F."
Wright left one out after Maicer Izturis' comebacker bounced off
the pitcher's glove. Wright threw to first and umpire Mark Hudson
called Izturis out -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia argued, and
replays appeared to show Izturis beat the throw.
Wright had to throw the ball at an "awkward angle," and Torre
said he took him out as a precaution because "he did look a little
funky there." In addition, catcher Jorge Posada noticed the
pitcher reaching for his back.
"Any time you can get five innings out of someone and give up
one run or no runs, that's golden, really, in today's baseball,"
Torre said. "When you realize how many pitchers it takes you to
get through the last three innings, if you can get one guy to get
you through the first five, you're all right."
Mariano Rivera finished the four-hitter for his 30th save in 33
chances, keeping New York two games ahead of second-place Boston in
the AL East. He has reached 30 saves in four straight seasons and
nine of the last 10.
Alex Rodriguez made his 20th error of the season, the most among
major league third basemen, letting Orlando Cabrera's sixth-inning
grounder get by him. Rodriguez went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles
and raised his average to .287, the highest it's been since
mid-July. Both hits were opposite-field drives to right.
"I haven't been able to do that all year. I've been beating my
head from frustration because I haven't been able to do it,"
Rodriguez said. "For the last 20 days or so, I felt a lot more
Kelvim Escobar (8-10) had been 3-0 in his previous six starts
but lost for the first time since June 25, giving up five runs and
eight hits in six innings. He walked Rodriguez leading off the
second, gave up a single to Jason Giambi and allowed a one-out,
three-run homer to Cano.
"I never really throw a slider to lefties. I don't know what I
was trying to do there," Escobar said. "I tried something
different, and it didn't work."
Cano is batting .474 (9-for-19) with two homers since returning
from a six-week layoff caused by a hamstring injury.
"He's fresh as a 10-year-old kid," Rodriguez said. "He has
that energy we need at this point of the year."
Bernie Williams then singled and, with two outs and a 2-0 count,
Damon connected on a 95 mph fastball. Damon had been 7-for-48
(.146) with no homers against Escobar.
"I fell behind Johnny and I tried to get a strike," Escobar
said. "I didn't execute a good pitch."
Los Angeles had four steals but Vladimir Guerrero was thrown out
at third base by right fielder Bobby Abreu on Rivera's two-out
single in the first and, with runners on second and third in the
sixth, Guerrero was picked off second by catcher Jorge Posada for
the final out of the inning.
"It's easy to sit back after the game and say that these plays
didn't help us," Scioscia said. "The vast majority of the time,
being aggressive works out for us."