Having dropped the first two games in Anaheim, the Yankees needed Andy Pettitte to come up big in the finale, and that’s exactly what he did. Pettitte held the Angels scoreless through five innings (though a blown call at first base by Dan Iassogna on an inning-ending double play in the fourth helped). The Yankees, meanwhile, scratched out a run in the fourth off John Lackey, bringing around a one-out walk to Alex Rodriguez to give Pettitte a 1-0 lead.
Pettitte made his only mistake of the night in the sixth, doubling up on curveballs to Orlando Cabrera, who knocked the second one over the fence in left just beyond Johnny Damon’s reach to tie the game. The 1-1 tie didn’t last long, however, as the Yankees rallied to take the lead against Lackey in the seventh. Jorge Posada, who was 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles on the night, led off with a walk and moved to third on a single up the middle by Robinson Cano. Wilson Betemit, who had struck out in his first two at-bats, followed by yanking a line drive to right, but right at Vladimir Guerrero, whose strong arm held Posada at third. Melky Cabrera then followed with an RBI single past Howie Kendrick at second, and, after a quick fly out by Damon, Derek Jeter delivered a two-out single to plate Cano.
Curiously, both run-scoring innings by the Yankees to that point ended with outs on the bases. In the fourth, Jorge Posada got caught in a run down between third and home as he tried to score on John Lackey’s wild throw to first on Cano’s infield single which had plated Rodriguez. In the seventh, Jeter was thrown out trying to advance to second on Guerrero’s throw home.
Fortunately, the Yankees didn’t need any extra runs as Pettitte stranded a leadoff single by Kendrick (that was aided by a Robinson Cano bobble) in the seventh, and the Yankees piled on in the eighth. A leadoff homer to dead center by Bobby Abreu bounced Lackey, after which the Bombers added two against the struggling Scot Shields and plated a third run charged to Shields with Chris Bootcheck on the hill. With a 7-1 lead, Joba Chamberlain came on to strike out the side, all on that nasty corkscrewing slider, around a Reggie Willits single in the eighth. The highlight of Chamberlain’s inning was his three-pitch strikeout of Vladimir Guerrero. Vlad fouled back a 100-mile-per-hour fastball on 0-1 only to come up empty on that slider for strike three.
The Yanks and Angels each added a run in the ninth, the Angels on three dinky singles against Mariano Rivera, to set the final score at 8-2.
With the Red Sox and Mariners both losing, the Yankees gain a game in both the Wild Card and the division with the win, which also moved Joe Torre past Casey Stengel and into second place on the Yankees’ all-time managerial list. The Yankees are just 4-5 in their last nine games, but they’re 7-3 against the contenders they’ve faced over the last two weeks and will have today to rest up before starting a seven-game stretch against Detroit and Boston.