Saturday, August 9, 2008

Angels pummel Yankees pitching

ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Los Angeles Angels show no signs of slowing down or pacing themselves for the playoffs — not even with a season-high 13-game lead in the AL West.

Torii Hunter was 4-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs, Howie Kendrick tied a career high with four hits and the Angels kept on trucking with a 10-5 victory over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

“There’s no way we’re going to get relaxed,” Hunter said. “We’re professional players. I mean, if you find somebody that says, ’Aw, we’re comfortable and these games right now don’t matter,’ I will slap them right now. Every day as a professional player, you try to win every day. And that’s what we’re doing.”

Vladimir Guerrero had three hits and scored three runs for the Angels. Everyone in the starting lineup contributed to the 17-hit attack except leadoff batter Chone Figgins, who was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.

“That team is so good. I mean, they can grind you to death,” Yankees left fielder Johnny Damon said. “They take pitches, they battle — and Figgins wasn’t even a part of this equation tonight. So we were fortunate that way.”

The Angels have 47 games remaining, 10 of them against second-place Texas. But no one in the organization is admitting that they have their fourth division title in five years wrapped up — least of all owner Arte Moreno.

“You’ve got to play them all out,” Moreno said. “We’re very comfortable with who we are and what we’re doing, but I think it was 1978 that Boston coughed up a 14-game lead to the Yankees and lost in a one-game playoff to a Bucky Dent home run. In ’95, the Angels spit up an 11-game lead in mid-August, and last year you saw what happened to the Mets down the stretch. So nothing’s a lock.”

Jered Weaver (10-9) allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings, including solo homers by Xavier Nady and Alex Rodriguez, who played in his 2,000th regular-season game.

The Yankees, who are trying to tie Atlanta’s major league record of 14 consecutive postseason appearances, remain three games behind Boston in the Wild Card race. They are 5-8 following their eight-game winning streak coming out of the All-Star break.

Trailing 6-3 entering the sixth, New York got a run closer on Nady’s 18th homer and fifth in 13 games since joining the Yankees in a trade with Pittsburgh. Robinson Cano followed with a triple off the right field wall and scored on Melky Cabrera’s groundout.

“No lead is safe with those guys. They could go off at any time,” Weaver said. “I left a couple of pitches out over the plate that I wish I could take back.”

But the Angels broke it open in the seventh. Hunter led off with his 19th homer, Jeff Mathis doubled home a run, pinch-runner Reggie Willits scored on Brian Bruney’s wild pitch and Mark Teixeira capped the rally with an RBI single. Willits left the game with a concussion following his collision at home plate with Jose Molina.

Ian Kennedy (0-4) retired only six of the 16 batters he faced, giving up five runs and nine hits in two-plus innings. The right-hander, beginning his third stint with the Yankees this season, was recalled from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre on Thursday when right-hander Joba Chamberlain went on the disabled list with tendinitis in his rotator cuff.