ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Mike Napoli quickly made up for missed
A late replacement, the rookie catcher threw out a runner trying
to steal, then hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the bottom of
the ninth inning to send the Los Angeles Angels over the New York
Yankees 6-5 Friday night.
Napoli, batting a paltry .228 after a fast start, lifted his fly
ball to left field off Octavio Dotel.
"In that situation, especially against a pitcher he's never
faced who has a power arm, you're looking for contact," Angels
manager Mike Scioscia said. "Mike's strong enough to drive the
ball to the outfield, and he got just enough of it to get it to the
outfield and win the game. That's a huge at-bat, and it should give
him a boost of confidence."
Napoli, who went behind the plate in the eighth inning after
catcher Jose Molina left for pinch-hitter, threw out pinch-runner
Nick Green trying to steal second in the ninth. Figgins followed
with his play.
The AL East-leading Yankees stayed 5½ games ahead of Boston in
the AL East. The Angels remained 5½ games behind Oakland in the AL
Francisco Rodriguez (1-2) pitched a hitless ninth inning for the
win, but it may not have happened without a defensive gem from
center fielder Chone Figgins, who made a running catch to rob Melky
Cabrera of extra bases and end the inning.
"He's a heck of a player and you can see how valuable he is to
Mike," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He's like a Darin Erstad
with more speed, and he doesn't take anything away from their club
defensively when they move him around. It's unusual when you have a
player who can to the things he can do. Normally, there's some kind
of an Achilles heel in there somewhere, but I haven't seen it."
Alex Rodriguez, limited to one pinch-hitting appearance in the
last two games because of a fever and a viral infection in his
throat, struck out four times against John Lackey. It was the third
time in A-Rod's career that the two-time AL MVP fanned four times
in a game.
"I've been swinging the bat pretty well on this road trip,
until today. And today was pretty bad," Rodriguez said. "I saw
the ball fine. It was just a bad approach, bad swings, bad
"What's frustrating is you know you should hit a ball hard,"
he said. "When you get pitches you should hit and you don't hit
them or foul them off, you want to strangle yourself. When you're
swinging the bat well, those are balls you drive to the gap for
doubles. But tomorrow's a different day, and I'll be ready to go."
Rodriguez had two strikes on him in his final at-bat, against
Scot Shields, before hitting a grounder that backup shortstop Erick
Aybar threw away. It was the major league-leading 100th error by
the Angels, who committed only 87 last season.
Vladimir Guerrero hit a two-run double for the Angels, giving
him 101 RBI.
The Yankees took a 5-4 lead in the seventh when pinch-hitter
Craig Wilson doubled off Shields and later scored on a wild pitch.
The Angels tied it in the bottom half on a sacrifice fly by
pinch-hitter Orlando Cabrera, who didn't start at shortstop because
of a split nail on his right index finger.
Yankees starter Jaret Wright allowed three runs and nine hits in
3 2-3 innings. Lackey allowed four runs and 10 hits over six
innings and struck out seven.
Aybar increased the Angels' margin to 4-2 with an RBI single in
It was the first-ever matchup between Lackey and Wright,
who are among eight pitchers in history to start Game 7 of the
World Series as rookies. In 2002, Lackey beat San Francisco; In
1997, Wright got a no-decision for Cleveland against Florida. ...
Guerrero became the second player in Angels history with three
straight seasons of 100 or more RBI. The other was Troy Glaus