Yankees rally late to defeat Angels
Bombers take lead in seventh inning, force Game 5
NEW YORK -- Gas up the plane, the Yankees are headed for California.
Staring elimination in the face in the sixth inning, the Yankees mounted yet another comeback win on Sunday night, defeating the Angels, 3-2, at Yankee Stadium.
New York's victory in Game 4 of the American League Division Series extended the best-of-five series to a fifth game, which will be played in Anaheim on Monday night.
"We could fly to Hawaii right now and we [couldn't] care less," said Alex Rodriguez. "We're so excited about playing Game 5 and having the opportunity to take it to the next level."
Ruben Sierra and Derek Jeter each knocked in runs in the seventh to bring the Yankees back from a 2-1 deficit. The Yankees then turned the game -- and their season -- over to Mariano Rivera, who earned his second save of the series with a pair of scoreless innings.
"That's the way we've played the last three weeks or so," said Shawn Chacon, who allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings. "Everybody has the attitude that we have to come out and win every game, no matter what situation we're in. Tonight showed some of the character of this team, the fight, and now we have one more game."
Mike Mussina and Bartolo Colon, who each watched Game 4 while resting in Southern California on Sunday night, will take the mound in Game 5.
"You don't sleep much during the playoffs, anyway," Jeter said. "They're going through the same exact thing. It's not like they're taking the Concorde out there."
John Lackey, starting on three days' rest in place of the ill Jarrod Washburn, was masterful for Los Angeles, allowing one run in 5 2/3 innings.
Chacon did his part to match Lackey, shutting out the Angels through five innings before surrendering a pair of runs in the sixth, the only black mark on his night.
"I've said it since I've been here," Chacon said. "If you keep this lineup close, good things will happen."
Good things did indeed happen for the Yankees, though it took some time for them to develop.
Both pitchers were at the top of their game, as neither team recorded a hit through the first three innings, with both Chacon and Lackey striking out four batters.
Neither team got much going during the first half of the game, as both starters posted zero after zero through the first five innings, allowing just one hit apiece.
"At the time," Chacon said, "the way the other guy is pitching, you're like, 'It's going to be one of those games where it's who cracks first.'"
Luckily for Chacon, that wasn't the case.
The Angels finally broke through against Chacon in the sixth, starting with a leadoff walk by Juan Rivera. A sacrifice bunt and a groundout moved him to third, and he scored on Chone Figgins' double to right.
Orlando Cabrera followed with a double to right-center, scoring Figgins to give the Angels a 2-0 lead.
"After the second run scored, I still had Vladimir Guerrero coming to bat with a guy on base, so all of that was out of my head," Chacon said. "The guys came to me and said, 'Keep it right there, because we have to score anyway.'"
"It helps that pretty much every guy on this team has postseason experience," Jason Giambi said. "We're a pretty even-keel bunch of guys. Even when they took the lead, nobody panicked."
The Yankees responded with a run in the bottom of the inning, as A-Rod walked, took second on a Giambi groundout and scored on Gary Sheffield's RBI single to left to cut the lead in half.
Chacon left the game with one out in the seventh after Guerrero singled, as Joe Torre brought in Al Leiter to face lefty Darin Erstad. The move -- which was clearly unpopular with the sellout crowd, which booed Torre's decision after giving Chacon a huge ovation -- worked perfectly, as Leiter got Erstad to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.
"Any time, if there's a little offense happening, a double play to end the inning late in a game," Leiter said, "the game being as close as it was, it certainly set us up."
New York took that momentum into the seventh, getting to an Angels bullpen that had been spectacular in the series.
Robinson Cano opened the inning with a single against Scot Shields, who then walked Posada with one out. Pinch-hitter Sierra singled through the hole at second, plating Cano to tie the game at 2.
"It's a situation I like to be in," Sierra said. "It's good that they have that confidence in me, and it's good that I did the job. Now they'll have even more confidence next time."
"We saw how important all 25 guys are last year with the Red Sox, and we feel like this team had 25 guys who can win the game for us," A-Rod said. "We did it all summer, and we did it again tonight."
That brought Jeter to the plate with the go-ahead run at third base. Jeter grounded a ball to third, where Figgins fielded it and threw home. But his throw bounced before reaching Bengie Molina, allowing Posada to sneak in before the tag, giving the Yanks a 3-2 lead.
"Their pitching staff is as good as any team in baseball," Jeter said. "You don't want to fall behind them, but unfortunately, we did. We were able to scratch and claw for a couple of late runs."
Kelvim Escobar relieved Shields, promptly loading the bases with a walk of A-Rod. But Escobar, who had been excellent in the series, struck out Giambi and got Sheffield to fly out, stranding all three runners.
Torre wasn't messing around, calling on Rivera to start the eighth.
"The feeling is that it's over," Jeter said. "It doesn't always happen, but that's the feeling you have. Mo has been automatic for a while."
"I trust him so much, because I know one thing, above anything else, whether it works or not, you know that he's going out there with the biggest heart in the world," Torre said. "He certainly doesn't shy away from the pressure."
Rivera retired the side in the eighth, then tossed a scoreless ninth to close out the win for his 34th career postseason save, getting Guerrero to ground out to Cano for the final out.
"I think the pressure is completely off us now," A-Rod said. "We're going to go out there and have fun. We'll take some of this momentum. Bartolo is going to be ready and so are we."
"Everyone here has been fighting for a while," Jeter said. "We've been playing well for a couple of months. Hopefully we'll go out there tomorrow night and play good."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.