Sloppy Angels drop wild finale in Bronx

Sloppy Angels drop finale in Bronx

NEW YORK -- A remarkable journey along the East Coast ended on Sunday for the Angels in wildly entertaining, if ultimately unsatisfying fashion at Yankee Stadium.

With thunder and opportunism, the Bronx Bombers overcame an early five-run deficit and Mark Teixeira's dramatic eighth-inning grand slam to prevail, 14-9, in front of 54,204 to split the four-game series.

All 10 runs produced by the Yankees in the seventh and eighth innings -- starter John Lackey departed before the seventh with a 5-4 lead -- were unearned, courtesy of four Angels errors.

"Defense is an asset with this club," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're confident we're going to make plays for our pitchers. Today, we didn't get it done. We played a poor ballgame."

Teixeira, in the biggest moment of his first week with his new club, gave the Angels the lead with a grand slam in the top of the eighth. But the relentless Yankees kept pounding away. A six-run eighth, the Angels undermining their bullpen with three errors, sent Scioscia's troupe home with seven wins in 10 games.

"We had a great trip," said veteran Garret Anderson. "Players don't get wrapped up in one game. This team doesn't let losses bother it. You've got to look at the big picture. We did a lot of really good things on this trip."

Anderson's two-run single against Darrell Rasner in the first inning staked Lackey to a two-run lead that expanded with Erick Aybar's RBI single in the second and two-run double in the fourth, with Reggie Willits (four walks) and Chone Figgins (four hits) setting up Aybar both times.

But Xavier Nady's booming bat, producing six RBIs, was the difference for the Yankees -- along with four Angels errors, three in the decisive eighth inning.

Newly acquired from the Pirates to add juice to the Yankees' lineup, Nady was the "X" factor with a double, two singles and a three-run homer in the seventh against Jose Arredondo that gave the Yanks the lead for the first time, 8-5.

It didn't stand up for long. Willits' fourth consecutive walk in the No. 9 hole triggered a two-out Angels rally in the eighth, culminating in Teixeira's grand slam into the right-field seats against reliever Edwar Ramirez for a 9-8 lead.

"It was big -- especially since I didn't come through early in the game," Teixeira said. "I was beating myself up because I didn't hit pitches.

"[Ramirez] left a changeup up over the middle of the plate. He's a good pitcher, but he got a pitch up in the zone."

Teixeira had seen the Angels often enough in his Rangers days to realize how unusual it was to see them help the other side out, with errors by Gary Matthews in center, Aybar at shortstop, Jeff Mathis behind the plate and Figgins at third.

"Hey, this is a good team we played," Teixeira said. "We split a four-game series and can't beat ourselves up too much. Things didn't go our way. That's part of baseball."

Shading Derek Jeter toward right-center, Matthews' inability to control the shortstop's one-out drive to left-center -- the ball bounced off his glove after a long run -- made all four subsequent runs against Arrendondo in the seventh unearned. Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez singled in front of Nady, who yanked his homer to left.

An inning earlier, Nady had in effect ended Lackey's day with a two-run double to the right-center gap, just beyond the reach of Willits and Matthews. Another scored on an infield out, and Lackey turned a one-run lead over to the bullpen having yielded four runs across six innings.

"I didn't feel I pitched poorly," said the Angels' ace, who had come within two outs of a no-hitter in his previous start in Boston. "I thought the ball Nady hit was going to be caught. The defense kind of let us down today, but overall, it was a great road trip.

"I think we probably would have taken 7-3. Guys swung the bats well, and that's a positive we can take."

With Torii Hunter attending his grandmother's funeral in Arkansas, and Vladimir Guerrero taking a day of rest after starting all 15 games since the All-Star break, the Angels' lineup wasn't as impressive as usual. But there was more than enough production, with 11 hits and seven walks, to win a normal game.

This -- four errors by a club admired for its defensive excellence -- was decidedly abnormal.

Arredondo and Scot Shields were forced to labor unnecessarily because of the defense's inability to make plays.

With pinch-runner Justin Christian on the move after Ivan Rodriguez's leadoff single in the eighth, Melky Cabrera grounded to Aybar, who had the ball jump up on him for an error. Christian was stealing third when Mathis' throw got past a retreating Figgins for an error, Christian scoring.

After a walk to Abreu loaded the bases, A-Rod grounded a potential double-play ball to the left of Figgins. But the sure-handed third baseman bobbled the ball in the transfer from glove to hand, and was too late with his throw to get an out at first.

Darren Oliver replaced Shields, surrendering a two-run single to Robinson Cano and RBI singles by Nady and Christian to finish the job.

"They took advantage of some mistakes," Shields said, taking the loss to move to 4-3, while Ramirez's win left him 3-0. "Look at their lineup -- the future Hall of Famers. They definitely will make you pay if you give them extra outs."

The Angels were much too charitable for their own good in the South Bronx, but they flew home knowing they'd experienced a remarkable 10 days on the right coast.

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