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Pineiro, Angels subdued by Yankees

Pineiro, Angels subdued by Yankees

ANAHEIM -- Andy Pettitte was a tough gem to crack on Saturday.

With Pettitte in an October groove and Joel Pineiro misplacing his mojo after a blazing start, the drama left the meeting of 2009 American League Championship Series combatants relatively quickly, much to the Angels' dismay.

The Yankees prevailed, 7-1, in front of 43,390 at Angel Stadium, setting up a rubber match on Sunday featuring Angels lefty Scott Kazmir against Javier Vazquez.

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"Pettitte, the last two times he's faced us," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "that's the best we've seen him, probably ever."

The ice-cool southpaw struck out eight in eight innings and walked nobody while giving up six hits, shaving his ERA to 1.29.

"They're a great team," a gracious Pettitte said of the Angels. "They're difficult to pitch to. They've got speed and they get on base. I feel fortunate I was able to give us a good outing.

"I feel like we've seen them so much by the end of the year and in the playoffs, we've made a lot of starts against these guys here lately. They've got a good idea of what I want to do out there on the mound, and that means you've got to execute."

Pineiro, who turned away the Yankees on April 14 in New York with seven brilliant innings, yielded a second-inning run on Nick Swisher's RBI double and then struggled to get outs in the fourth and fifth.

The sinkerball artist coughed up as many runs (four) in Saturday's first four innings as he had in his first 20 1/3 innings in an Angels uniform, covering three starts.

"I don't think he was ever able to establish things he did in New York," Scioscia said. "Give their guys credit for hitting with runners in scoring position."

Pineiro made it through six innings, giving up six runs on 11 hits. He'd surrendered a total of 10 hits in his first two starts, against the Twins and Yankees, in 13 innings.

New York was 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position, compared to the Angels' 0-for-2.

"A lot of balls were staying up in the middle of the zone," Pineiro said. "Maybe they were a little more aggressive. They knew I was going to be in the zone. I don't think my slider was as good as in New York, but my changeup was good, and my sinker was pretty good.

"They put the ball in play when they needed to. Some balls between first and second were on the ground but found a hole."

Four hits and an intentional walk produced three Yankees runs in the fourth, catcher Francisco Cervelli delivering a two-out, two-run single to left and Derek Jeter following with an RBI single through the middle.

Alex Rodriguez, 4-for-30 in his career against Pineiro coming in with 10 strikeouts and one RBI, started the uprising with a single to center.

Robinson Cano followed with a single to right, and after Nick Swisher sacrificed, Pineiro seemingly was on the verge of escaping when he struck out Ramiro Pena.

"He came within an eyelash of getting out of the fourth," Scioscia said.

But Cervelli, Jorge Posada's backup behind the plate, stroked a slider through the left side for two runs. Jeter slammed an RBI single through the middle.

The Yanks scored twice in the fifth on two-out singles by Cano (his third of four hits) and Swisher after Brett Gardner's leadoff triple.

Cano and Gardner combined to produce as many hits (seven) as the Angels, who came up empty against another Yankees lefty, Damaso Marte, in the ninth.

The Angels, who preach taking the extra base, were shot down in the third by Gardner, the left fielder nailing Mike Napoli at third trying to advance on Brandon Wood's single.

Scioscia gave credit to Pena, filling in at third with A-Rod serving as DH, for making an "incredible play" handling a tough hop on Gardner's throw to throw down the tag on Napoli.

With Jeff Mathis and Bobby Wilson on the disabled list and Ryan Budde summoned to work as his backup, Napoli is going to get a lot of work in the days ahead. But he clearly won't be overly cautious, judging by his all-out effort to reach third, applauded by his manager.

"I'll go out and play as hard as I always play," Napoli said. "You can't worry about getting hurt. Play hard all the time."

Bobby Abreu singled after Napoli was thrown out, but Torii Hunter was caught looking at a third strike, deepening the Angels' frustration.

"He's a veteran guy," Hunter said of Pettitte. "He's been around a long time. He hit his spots, whether away or in. He was very comfortable out there. He looked good."

Pettitte was in top form by the fifth, striking out the side. The Angels ended his shutout bid in the sixth when Erick Aybar doubled, scoring on Hunter's sacrifice fly after Abreu's drive to right fell short of the wall.

The Yanks padded their lead in the seventh against Scot Shields when Gardner singled, stole second and scored on Mark Teixeira's ground-ball double through a shift.

Brian Stokes navigated the eighth and ninth without yielding a run, extending his streak of scoreless innings to six. And Shields felt good about the three outs that followed the run he allowed, finding his elusive release point in the process.

But the Angels' offense never managed to take flight with Pettitte in shutdown mode, making for a quiet Saturday for the partisans in a decidedly divided crowd.

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

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