Fifth error haunts Yankees in 13th
Clemens' eight strong innings unsupported; four batters hitless
NEW YORK -- Angels catcher Jose Molina shot the ball toward the right side of the infield. First baseman Miguel Cairo reacted, catching a glimpse of the runner on second base as he reached across his body in a dive.
Cairo smothered the grounder and jumped to his feet. But as soon as he got up, the ball went down. It slipped from his hand.
With Molina hustling down the first-base line, Cairo dipped for the ball and underhanded it toward first base. Pitcher Luis Vizcaino, running to cover the bag, reached for it, but the ball sailed behind his glove.
That marked the Yankees' fifth error of the game -- and the third by Cairo -- and allowed Howie Kendrick to score the go-ahead run in the Angels' 2-1, 13-inning win over the Yankees on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
"I caught it and was trying to throw," Cairo said. "I just didn't do my job -- simple as that."
It was the first time the Yankees committed five errors in a game since Aug. 9, 2002, a 16-inning game against the A's. But manager Joe Torre said the errors looked different on the field than on the scoreboard.
"The nature of the errors, it wasn't like they were sloppy," Torre said. "Guys made diving plays to stop balls and then were throwing from their knees. Sure, it cost you a ballgame, but it's certainly not something that I'm going to dwell on, because these guys played their tails off."
All of this came after a pitchers' duel between aces Roger Clemens and John Lackey.
Clemens allowed five hits and one run in eight innings, and Lackey matched him inning for inning, hit for hit. But Lackey notched 11 strikeouts, matching a career high.
Derek Jeter said he'd never before seen Lackey pitch the way he did on Saturday. Alex Rodriguez, who said he would play in next week's All-Star game despite dealing with a strained left hamstring, echoed those same words. And Johnny Damon didn't have any sweet memories, either.
"His fastball down the middle was even tough to pick up," Damon said. "It's coming from a different angle than what we've seen. But that's no excuse. He gave us pitches to hit. It seemed like we took the good ones and chased some bad ones."
Melky Cabrera took the brunt of Lackey's fine night, striking out four times against the right-hander and five times overall.
But Cabrera wasn't the only one guessing at the plate. Torre noted that his entire lineup uncharacteristically swung at pitches in the dirt and out of the strike zone.
"Lackey had a great curveball," Torre said. "Sometimes it looks like it's going to stay up and it doesn't. Melky wasn't the only one. He had a lot of company."
Catcher Jorge Posada tried to account for Clemens' strong outing. He said that The Rocket was unbelievable, lights-out, hitting his spots efficiently by throwing just 98 pitches over his eight innings.
Clemens has surrendered just two runs over his past 16 innings, putting together his two most impressive starts since joining the Yankees in early June. Clemens' right arm muscle-memorized all of his pitches, according to Torre. The 44-year-old is back.
"He seems to have his determination now, knowing that he has all his ammo," Torre said. "I think he has a feel about him now that he can pretty much do what he wants to do with his pitches."
Jeter said that only a no-hitter would outdo what Clemens accomplished against the Angels in front of the 54,497 fans in attendance.
The Rocket, however, wasn't quick to say that he's back to vintage form. Clemens wouldn't touch that. Instead, he said he's back to the weight room, back to running, back to work. He's preparing for his next start against the Devil Rays, which will come after the All-Star break.
"I need to get my body ready, and hopefully there will be more of these types of starts down the road," he said. "That's all I can hope for -- do the work and prepare."
The loss dropped the Yankees to 41-43 on the season, killing their chances of reaching .500 before the Midsummer Classic.
Rodriguez kept the postgame reaction simple -- "That one hurt" -- and Torre took it a bit further: "Especially at home."
Caleb Breakey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.