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YANKEES FIND A WAY TO GAME 5 WIN SENDS ALDS BACK TO ANAHEIM N.Y. YANKEES 3, ANGELS 2.

Byline: Joe Haakenson Staff Writer

NEW YORK - In recent years, the ``mystique'' in Yankee mystique has been nothing more than an eight-letter word that rhymes with bleak. That's what happens when baseball's most-storied franchise goes without a World Series championship in five years.

Eight outs away from going on vacation a few weeks earlier than owner George Steinbrenner prefers, the Yankees found a little of that old magic and rallied to beat the Angels 3-2 in Game 4 of the American League Division Series in front of 56,226 at Yankee Stadium.

The victory evened the best-of-five series at two games each with the decisive Game 5 to be played tonight at Angel Stadium.

The Angels have played three win-or-go-home games in the past three years, winning two of them (Games 6 and 7 of the 2002 World Series) and losing one (Game 3 of 2004 ALDS).

``We didn't go looking for it, we weren't trying to get to this point,'' Angels first baseman Darin Erstad said. ``But this team has responded pretty well to adversity over the years. And if you have to play one game for all the marbles, (Bartolo Colon) is the guy I'd want on the mound.''

The Angels could have saved Colon for Game 1 of the AL Championship Series had they been able to hold onto the 2-1 lead they had entering the bottom of the seventh. Starting pitcher John Lackey, pitching on three-days' rest, was replaced by Scot Shields with two outs in the sixth, and Shields got out of the inning.

Leading off the seventh, Robinson Cano, the Yankees' Game 1 hero, hit a slow roller to shortstop and beat it out for an infield single. Shields walked Jorge Posada, and Yankees manager Joe Torre sent up Ruben Sierra to pinch hit for Bubba Crosby.

Sierra lined a single to right field, driving in Cano from second despite a strong throw by Vladimir Guerrero, tying the game at 2. Posada took third on the play, then tried to score on Derek Jeter's slow grounder to Chone Figgins at third.

Figgins fielded the ball cleanly but his throw was in the dirt. Catcher Bengie Molina scooped it up but his tag on Posada was too late and the Yankees could start thinking about a cross-country flight to Southern California.

Figgins said his throw home ``slipped a little bit.''

``It was a slow chopper, the grass was wet, and you try to get off the best throw you can,'' said Figgins, who drove in the Angels' first run of the night with an RBI double in the sixth. ``It was one of those do-or-die plays.''

Scioscia said he thought Figgins might have rushed his throw.

``I think Figgy had a little more time than he thought,'' Scioscia said. ``He just pulled it up the line.''

Said Torre: ``To get the lead was such a bonus for us at that point in time, because this (Angels) ballclub is not easy to score against.''

All that was left was for closer Mariano Rivera to get the final six outs, which he did without a hitch. So confident were the Yankees that Rivera would do the job that the stadium organist played ``California Here I Come'' before the top of the ninth inning.

Both starting pitchers pitched well early, as neither team had a hit until Guerrero's infield single with two outs in the fourth inning.

Yankees starter Shawn Chacon had retired the first nine Angels hitters of the game before Figgins reached on an error by left fielder Hideki Matsui leading off the fourth.

Lackey, pitching in place of Jarrod Washburn (throat infection), was equally effective in the early innings. He walked Jason Giambi twice and Posada once but did not allow a hit until Posada doubled with two outs in the fifth.

Molina said Lackey made only one mistake all night - Gary Sheffield's RBI single with two out in the sixth that cut the Angels' lead to 2-1. It was one of only two hits the Yankees had against Lackey, but Scioscia removed Lackey after only 78 pitches, and Lackey wasn't happy about it.

``Nothing against (Shields), but you want to be the guy making pitches when the game is on the line,'' Lackey said. ``I felt like I was pitching well enough to decide that game for us.''

Scioscia explained that the decision was based on two factors - Lackey was pitching on three-days' rest, and he wanted to give Shields as much ``wiggle room'' as possible, meaning he didn't want to wait for the Yankees to put more runners on base.

``John's never happy about coming out of the game,'' Scioscia said. ``It's part of his makeup.''

Shields, though, couldn't hold the lead and took the blame for the loss.

``The loss hurts right now,'' Shields said. ``But we'll be ready to go. It's no time to dwell on the loss. We've got to get the job done today.''

The Angels broke through in the sixth after Juan Rivera walked and took second on Steve Finley's sacrifice bunt. One out later, Figgins ripped a double into the right-field corner to score Rivera and give the Angels a 1-0 lead.

On the very next pitch from Chacon, Orlando Cabrera doubled to right-center, scoring Figgins to put the Angels up, 2-0.

The Yankees got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth when they cashed in on Lackey's one-out walk to Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez took second on Giambi's groundout, then scored on the two-out, RBI single by Sheffield.

With his bullpen fresh, Scioscia immediately went to his bullpen, summoning Shields, who got out of the inning when he got Matsui on a grounder to first.

Joe Haakenson, (626) 962-8811

joe.haakenson(at)sgvn.com

CAPTION(S):

2 photos, 2 boxes

Photo:

(1 -- cover -- color) DECISION DAY TODAY

New York Yankees force a fifth game in American League Division Series, defeating the Angels 3-2

Nick Laham/Associated Press (2) The Angels lost Game 4 of the ALDS against the Yankees, forcing tonight's decisive Game 5.

Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

Box:

(1) GAME RECAP

(2) HOW THE RUNS SCORED
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 10, 2005
Words:1022
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