Angels roll over the Yanks

July 31, 2008 9:00:12 PM PDT
Angels manager Mike Scioscia knew his team was due to break out. The stats were on his side. Torii Hunter had a more primal explanation for Los Angeles' recent surge.

Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero and Juan Rivera each hit a three-run homer, and the Angels added to their East Coast romp with a 12-6 win over the New York Yankees on Thursday night.

Los Angeles, which came in averaging 6.2 runs per game in July - after just 3.8 in June - scored 22 runs during a three-game sweep in Boston before opening this four-game set. They tallied 19 runs in taking two of three at Baltimore last weekend.

"If you looked at some of the numbers guys were sitting on as we got into the middle of June, I think it was very apparent that even their average year would mean a big upswing in the second half of the year," Scioscia said.

Jon Garland coasted to his 10th win, and the Angels hit a trio of three-run homers in a game for the first time in 30 years as Los Angeles improved baseball's best record to 68-40 with its 11th victory in 13 games since the All-Star break.

Garret Anderson had four hits for the second consecutive night. Every Los Angeles starter had at least one hit and scored a run as the Angels amassed 18 hits and stole three bases.

"You got athletes on this team," said Hunter, who hit his fifth home run in seven games. "We're Hyenas. We take advantage of the weak link. You make a mistake and we're gone."

The Angels took advantage of a wild Andy Pettitte, who constantly fell behind in the count and needed 110 pitches in his 5 1-3 innings throwing to Ivan Rodriguez for the first time.

"You've got to make quality pitches, that's the bottom line," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, discounting the affect Rodriguez might have had on Pettitte. "When you get behind in the count to a very good offense that has different ways to beat you with speed and power, it's tough."

Rodriguez received a boisterous ovation in his first at-bat for New York, but struggled for the Yankees. The 14-time All-Star catcher arrived in the Bronx just hours after being acquired from Detroit on Wednesday. He went 1-for-3 and was thrown out at home trying to score on Johnny Damon's hard liner to the mound in the seventh that was dropped by Darren Oliver.

Oliver threw to second for a force and second baseman Howie Kendrick threw home. Replays showed Rodriguez beat the throw.

"It was a long day. I'm a little tired right now," Rodriguez said.

Mark Teixeira got his first two hits, an RBI and a stolen base for the Angels. He went 0-for-4 in his debut Wednesday against Boston.

The Yankees began a crucial stretch in which they play their West Coast nemesis seven times in 11 days. This was their 22nd loss in 34 games against Los Angeles.

Hunter and Rivera each tagged Pettitte in the third to give the Angels a 6-0 lead. The six-run inning matched their season best, last accomplished on July 28 in the sixth inning at Boston.

Guerrero connected in the sixth, one batter after Chris Britton, called up from Triple-A on Thursday, relieved Pettitte (12-8). All three homers came with two outs. The last time the Angels hit a trio of three-run shots in a game was June 8, 1978, at Oakland.

"The Yankees are the Yankees. You better score a lot of runs or they will be right there with you," Hunter said. "That's what's scary."

Chone Figgins, who had four hits, had an RBI single in the sixth. Eric Aybar then walked and Pettitte was done. He allowed nine runs and 11 hits.

"Didn't feel comfortable from the get-go," Pettitte said. "I didn't keep anybody off base. Top of their lineup. Bottom of their lineup. Didn't keep the guys that have a little bit of power in the ballpark. So just didn't do anything right tonight. I was missing with everything. It was a bad night, that's for sure."

Bobby Abreu hit a belt-high pitch into the right-center seats with one out in the fourth for the Yankees' first hit off Garland (10-6).

Xavier Nady hit his second homer for New York and 15th of the year leading off the seventh. A batter later and Garland was done, having given up three runs in six-plus innings.

Notes: The Angels went 19-6 in July. The Yankees finished the month 15-10. ... The Yankees signed free agent Victor Zambrano, who has been working out at their minor league complex in Tampa, Fla. The right-hander was last in the major leagues in 2007, when he pitched in 13 games for Toronto and Baltimore. He is 45-44 with a 4.64 ERA. ... Angels pitcher Kelvim Escobar had right shoulder surgery Tuesday in New York. Mets team doctor David Altchek repaired Escobar's posterior labrum. ... Ron Jackson, Don Baylor and Brian Downing each hit a three-run homer for the Angels in that 1978 game.