Johnson reaches K mark, helps Yankees KO Angels

NEW YORK (AP) -- With the New York Yankees grinding their way
through a tight pennant race, Randy Johnson is much more concerned
about big wins than personal milestones.

Johnson pitched seven strong innings and surpassed 4,500
strikeouts, and Alex Rodriguez hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly that
sent New York to a 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on
Monday night.

Derek Jeter hit an early two-run homer and Jorge Posada added a
solo shot, helping the Yankees gain a four-game split against a
longtime nemesis and extend their AL East lead to two games over

"I've never allowed myself to get too caught up in the
accomplishments. Maybe I will when I'm done," Johnson said. "It
means I've been around a long time and I've struck out a lot of
batters. That's probably why my arm's pretty tired."

The Big Unit outpitched John Lackey for his 276th win and became
only the third major leaguer to reach 4,500 strikeouts, joining
Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Roger Clemens (4,552).

"I thought his slider was outstanding," Yankees manager Joe
Torre said. "He looks like he's got a little spring in his step.
We just want to hold onto it as long as possible."

After taking a no-hit bid into the seventh during his previous
start against the Chicago White Sox, Johnson (13-9) held the Angels
scoreless for six innings.

But Chone Figgins hit an RBI single with two outs in the seventh
and, running on the pitch, scored from first base on Howie Kendrick's double that tied it at 2.

"We got a good rally off a tough pitcher. We just couldn't get
the lead," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "If we'd gotten our
offense going a little earlier, we might have given John a little
more room to work with."

The Yankees pushed across the go-ahead run in the bottom half
with two bunts and a sac fly.

Johnny Damon got it going with a bloop single, Jeter followed
with a perfectly placed bunt single and No. 3 batter Bobby Abreu
squared around for his first sacrifice bunt since July 1998,
according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"He's capable of doing everything," Posada said. "Even the
third hitter's got to be able to get it down. That's the way we're
going to go after it from now on. Everything counts."

Jason Giambi was intentionally walked to load the bases for
Rodriguez. Booed at home much of the season for failing to come
through in clutch situations, the two-time MVP lofted a 1-2 pitch
deep into the right-field corner.

Vladimir Guerrero caught the ball with his back to the wall, but
Damon scored easily and A-Rod received hearty congratulations in
the dugout.

"A nice way to manufacture a run," Rodriguez said. "That was
a great game out there. Lackey's a handful."

Posada homered on Brendan Donnelly's first pitch in the eighth --
his third hit after beginning the night in a career-worst 0-for-25

Abreu added an RBI infield single against J.C. Romero, Giambi
delivered a sacrifice fly and Rodriguez drove in another run with a
bad-hop single, making it 7-2.

Kyle Farnsworth worked a perfect eighth to preserve a one-run
lead, and Mariano Rivera closed it out.

Lackey (10-9) lost his third consecutive start, allowing three
runs and 11 hits in seven innings.

"It would be nice if we could get out to a lead and hang onto
one," he said. "I was able to minimize the damage, give our team
a chance to win. If you're going to be a playoff team, you've got
to figure out ways to win games like that."

Johnson gave up eight hits, walked one and struck out five. He
fanned Tim Salmon in the fourth for No. 4,500.

"He really pitches now. He kind of reminds me of Clemens when
he started throwing that splitty," Salmon said.

Posada tossed the ball into the dugout to be kept as a souvenir,
and the crowd chanted "Randy! Randy!" The Big Unit went right
back to work, but waved to his family behind home plate after the

Game notes
Jeter's bunt single drew chants of "MVP! MVP!" ... Giambi
was thrown out at the plate by rookie CF Reggie Willits in the
second after running through a stop sign from third base coach
Larry Bowa. ... Johnson improved to 16-7 against the Angels. ...
Scioscia said he would rest slumping SS Orlando Cabrera one of the
next two nights in Texas. ... Angels OF Garret Anderson missed his
third straight start due to tightness in his lower back, but
Scioscia said he hopes to have Anderson back in some capacity
Tuesday night.