ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Some things in baseball just can't be
explained easily -- like why the Angels have such a great bullpen
without any left-handers in it. Or why they are the only team with
a winning record against the Yankees in the Joe Torre era.
"Maybe it's because we're not scared of anybody," closer
Francisco Rodriguez said Friday night after preserving John
Lackey's 6-3 victory with his 23rd save. "Our confidence is really
high. We play aggressive no matter who we're facing.
"We know how good they are. They have so many superstars in
their lineup, but we're not paying attention to that. We go out
there and play hard every single out and every single inning, and
we don't give up."
Darin Erstad, Chone Figgins and Jose Molina had RBI singles for
the Angels, who are 47-45 against New York in the regular season
since Torre became Yankees manager in 1996. That doesn't even count
the 2002 AL playoffs, when the Angels beat the Yankees in four
games en route to their first World Series title.
"I have no idea why. If that's the case, it hasn't been easy,"
second baseman Adam Kennedy said. "You know you're always in for a
dogfight and you know your pitchers are going to have to work
harder because their hitters just constantly work the count and put
pressure on you."
Kennedy's two-run single keyed a four-run second inning against
Al Leiter, helping the AL West-leading Angels maintain their
6½-game lead and keeping New York 1½ games behind Boston in the
Lackey (8-4) allowed three runs -- two earned -- and five hits in
5 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and two walks.
Leiter (1-1) gave up six runs and 10 hits over six innings in
his second start since the Yankees acquired him from Florida last
Saturday. The 19-year veteran left-hander, pitching again for the
team he began his big league career with in 1987, couldn't keep the
momentum going after holding Boston to a run in 6 1-3 innings last
Sunday in a 5-3 victory.
"It looked like the first three innings he stayed in the strike
zone too long," Torre said. "But the competitor he is, he just
battled his tail off. He was one hitter away from coming out of the
game a couple different times. But as frustrated as he was early
on, it didn't keep him from fixing it. I thought his last three
innings were high-quality."
Brendan Donnelly inherited a 5-3 lead from Lackey in the sixth
and struck out the red-hot Jason Giambi with the tying run at the
plate. Donnelly pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings, Scot Shields
worked the eighth and Rodriguez got three outs for his 23rd save in
"We've taken pride in being one of the best bullpens for the
last four years," Donnelly said. "Knowing your roles down there
is huge because we know what kind of situations we're going to
pitch in and are able to mentally prepare ourselves the best way
possible to give ourselves the best chance for success. We already
have a plan going into the game."
Angels relievers extended their scoreless streak to 28 1-3
innings dating back to Richie Sexson's two-run homer against Kevin
Gregg on July 10 against Seattle.
"Their right-handers get lefties out," Torre said. "I think
the cosmetic value of having a left-hander is only useful if he
gets lefties out. But some of those guys' numbers against
left-handers are pretty impressive. It is unusual, but a lot of it
is the confidence Mike Scioscia has in those guys. I mean, look
what he did tonight. He made changes not after hits, but after
The Angels grabbed a 4-1 lead in the second after singles by
Bengie Molina and his younger brother Jose. Maicer Izturis was
robbed of at least a double by third base umpire Larry Young -- who
ruled his one-out liner over third base was foul. TV replays
clearly showed the ball kicked up chalk on the foul line, and
Izturis eventually drew a walk to load the bases.
Kennedy followed with a two-run single that put the Angels ahead
2-1, and Figgins lined a single off Leiter's glove and into center
field to score Izturis. Kennedy advanced to third on Figgins' hit
and came home with the fourth run when Leiter's errant pickoff
throw to first got past Giambi.
"I kind of settled in a little better after that inning. But a
four-run inning is a big inning, and it's hard for the guys to come
back from that," Leiter said.
The Yankees narrowed the gap to 5-3 with Hideki Matsui's RBI
single in the fourth and Robinson Cano's RBI double in the fifth,
which followed a two-out walk to the slumping Derek Jeter. But
Erstad got one of the runs back in the sixth with his two-out
The Angels announced after the game that RHP Jered Weaver,
their No.1 draft pick from 2004, was promoted from Single-A Rancho
Cucamonga to Double-A Arkansas. ... Jeter was 0-for-4 and is in a
4-for-35 slump. Bernie Williams ended an 0-for-18 drought with a
seventh-inning single. ... Cano's two hits extended his hitting
streak to 11 games, tying the rookie's career best.