Tuesday is a distant memory

Yanks get best of Lackey

ANAHEIM -- There were no monumental performances from Garret Anderson or any of his Angels teammates on Wednesday night.

With Andy Pettitte reaching back to the glory days for an effort his club needed, the Yankees erupted in the late innings to subdue the Angels, 8-2, on Wednesday night at Angel Stadium to avoid a three-game sweep.

This was vintage Andy Pettitte, vintage Bronx Bombers. They take no small measure of pride in their identities, Pettite as a big-game pitcher, the Bronx Bombers as equal-opportunity abusers of quality pitching.

"Offensively, they're obviously a powerhouse -- and they did a lot of good things on the bases, too," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Joe Torre's Yankees, who climbed to within 1 1/2 games of Seattle in the American League's Wild Card race.

Meanwhile, the Angels -- hoping they didn't lose first baseman Casey Kotchman on the heels of a Chone Figgins injury -- maintained a two-game lead over the Mariners in the AL West.

Kotchman was struck on the left hand, the thumb and middle finger absorbing most of the contact, pinch-hitting in the ninth. He was trying unsuccessfully to check his swing on one of Mariano Rivera's famous cutters.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed," Scioscia said. "It's black and blue. He's going to get some X-rays."

Figgins missed the series finale after suffering a bruise on the outside of his left wrist while checking a swing during the 18-9 Angels rout on Tuesday night, fueled by Anderson's 10 RBIs and two homers.

Calling the news on Figgins "very encouraging," Scioscia said his leadoff catalyst and third baseman is expected back within the next few days.

The manager would like to be as optimistic about setup man Scot Shields, whose struggles continued.

Shields yielded three earned runs on two hits and a walk while getting one out in the eighth inning. Virtually unhittable before the All-Star break, Shields has watched his ERA balloon to 3.65 as he seeks answers to some mechanical flaws.

The Angels won't be seeing the Yankees again this season -- unless it's in October with the whole world watching.

After combining for 27 runs and 26 hits the night before, the two sides put on a more conventional show for two-thirds of the series finale.

Right up until the Yanks manufactured two runs in the seventh and Bobby Abreu homered leading off the eighth on John Lackey's 106th and final delivery, this was a pitchers' duel between two of the best.

Pettitte was flawless until he left a curveball out over the plate with one out in the sixth, and Orlando Cabrera launched it over the wall in left-center for his eighth homer of the season.

That was enough to get the Angels even for their big ace, Lackey, coming off his worst performance of the season in Boston.

But the Yanks surged ahead with two in the seventh with a walk and three singles, Melky Cabrera and Derek Jeter driving in the runs after Jorge Posada had walked and Robinson Cano singled.

Posada's second double (to go with a single and walk) cashed in a pair of runs against Shields during the four-run eighth that busted it wide open, the Yanks adding a final run in the ninth.

"I thought John pitched a good game," Scioscia said of Lackey, who has fallen to 15-8 with two straight losses.

Lackey, who has yielded 40 hits in his past 25 2/3 innings, kicks off a showdown with the Mariners on Monday in Seattle, where he hasn't surrendered a run in 15 innings while winning twice this season.

After escaping a first-and-third jam in the second inning by starting a double play on Cano and then leaving Johnny Damon stranded after a double in the third, Lackey fell behind in the fourth.

Alex Rodriguez walked with one out and stopped at third on Posada's double to left. Cano then hit a high hopper between Lackey and first baseman Robb Quinlan. Lackey bounded off the mound and handled it but threw high to first, beyond the reach of Quinlan.

It was ruled an infield hit, A-Rod scoring, but when Posada was trapped between third and home in a rundown, the inning was over.

Pettitte also ran into trouble in the fourth but survived -- thanks in part to a highly questionable call by first-base umpire Dan Iassogna.

After Vladimir Guerrero knocked a one-out double off the left-field fence, missing a homer by about six feet, Anderson -- a .377 career hitter against Pettitte before singling in the second inning -- walked.

Howie Kendrick, who delivered four hits in the romp Tuesday night, grounded to A-Rod at third. A replay indicated Kendrick beat the relay to first, but Iassogna ruled otherwise, bringing Scioscia out of the dugout in full sprint.

The argument brought about as much satisfaction as the outcome of the ballgame.

The Angels concluded their business with the Yanks holding a 6-3 edge, the fourth straight time the Angels have claimed the season series.

Since Scioscia took over as manager in 2000, the Angels are 38-33 against the Yanks, the only club to have a winning record against Torre's outfit over that span.

The Angels also are 6-3 against the Bombers in postseason play, sending New York on vacation in 2002 and 2005.

A third showdown in six seasons would suit both sides fine.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.