Angels rally for 3 in 8th to stun Yankees

Once down 6-1, Anaheim gets 9-6 win, is now one victory away from upset

Torre: `We knew they were good'

Erstad hits RBI double, Salmon a 2-run HR in 8th

Division Series

October 05, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. - They wore red jerseys and red caps, and gripped red plastic tubes that were banged on railings or against each other. This wasn't a splash of color, it was a tidal wave.

Fans of the Anaheim Angels, in a celebratory mood for the first home playoff game in 16 years, had every reason to brighten their surroundings.

It's not their season that's fading to black.

Trailing big in the third inning, the Angels staged the kind of rally usually created by their opponent. It became complete in the eighth when doubles by Adam Kennedy and Darin Erstad broke a tie and gave Anaheim a 9-6 victory last night over the New York Yankees before 45,072 at Edison International Field.

Tim Salmon added a two-run homer on the first pitch thrown by Steve Karsay in the eighth, and the largest crowd in the ballpark's history went ballistic. They made Yankee Stadium seem subdued. It could remain empty until 2003, as the Angels took a 2-1 lead in this best-of-five American League Division Series.

"We knew they were good coming in," said manager Joe Torre, after the Yankees lost for only the third time in their postseason history after leading by five or more runs. "Right now, they're playing with a great deal of confidence and they're playing very aggressively. They certainly have earned what they've had."

Kennedy led off the eighth against Yankees reliever Mike Stanton with a double along the right-field line, the ball glancing off Raul Mondesi's glove as he reached down for it. David Eckstein sacrificed him to third, and Erstad's drive found the base of the fence in right.

"I was looking for something up in the zone, at least [to] get a fly ball," Erstad said.

Leadoff hitter Alfonso Soriano batted three times in the first three innings, as the Yankees jumped all over Angels starter Ramon Ortiz and reliever John Lackey while building a 6-1 lead. But a series that has been spiced by dramatic turns and questionable late-inning strategies again veered away from the routine.

The Angels remain a team incapable of being intimidated. Rookie relievers Lackey and Francisco Rodriguez combined for five scoreless innings and seven strikeouts. Kennedy hit Anaheim's seventh homer in the playoffs, a bases-empty shot in the fourth inning, and the Angels kept badgering Yankees relievers until erasing the final run of their deficit in the seventh.

"We just scratched and clawed," Erstad said. "That's what we do."

Stanton gave up the tying run as the second pitcher to follow starter Mike Mussina, who left after the fourth inning with tightness in his right groin. Last year, Mussina helped the Yankees stave off elimination against the Oakland Athletics in Game 3.

Kennedy's sacrifice fly in the sixth reduced New York's lead to 6-5. Two more Angels reached in the seventh, including Garret Anderson on a double, before Scott Spiezio - 0-for-12 lifetime against Stanton - looped a two-out single just beyond Soriano's glove in shallow center. That made it 6-6.

"Even though we were down 6-1, we kept playing our game. We kept pressuring them," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia.

Lacking the same rotation depth as his opponent, Scioscia will bring back Game 1 starter Jarrod Washburn today while the Yankees go with David Wells. A New York victory returns the series to the Bronx tomorrow.

Washburn threw 81 pitches on Tuesday, and returns on three days' rest for only the second time this season. It's a brief history, but also a good one.

Under the same conditions, Washburn tossed eight shutout innings against Oakland on Sept. 17.

"The only other time I did it was in minor-league ball in 1997," he said.

"I did it for about a month and a half. I really liked it. I liked getting out there sooner. As long as I felt physically capable of doing it, I didn't see any problems with coming back early. I enjoyed it, personally."

Scioscia wouldn't make Washburn's assignment official before the game, but it became obvious in the first inning when Lackey, the other candidate to start, began to warm in the bullpen.

Ortiz did a little of everything in the first. He gave up a single and a double. He walked two batters and hit another. And he failed to cover third base on a play made possible only with the exaggerated shift used against left-handed hitting Jason Giambi.

Derek Jeter singled with one out - his sixth hit in eight at-bats - and took off for second as Giambi was drawing a walk. Angels catcher Bengie Molina made the unnecessary throw, and when the ball rolled behind the bag, Jeter alertly raced to third. Troy Glaus wasn't there because of the shift, which put him at shortstop, and Ortiz didn't leave the mound until it was too late.

Another walk loaded the bases, and Robin Ventura lined a two-run double into right-center field. Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera greeted Lackey with two-out, run-scoring singles in the third - the only hits he allowed until Rivera led off the sixth with a single.

The two runs weren't charged to Lackey, who allowed three hits in his three innings of work.

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