Saturday brought them no closer to a solution, but the explanation seems apparent. The Angels did a better job of executing the Yankees' playbook again, grinding down Andy Pettitte and keeping the bullpen sweating as they muscled out a 14-8 victory at the Bombers' house of horrors.
"They sure are a tough team all the time, but especially here," Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon said. "They can just wear down a team. They wear down pitching staffs like our team does. They see a lot of pitches and they can all put pressure on the defense, too. We're constantly on our toes with them."
Despite a two-homer performance from Alex Rodriguez, who moved past Rafael Palmeiro into sole possession of 10th place all-time with career blast No. 570, plus a pair of roundtrippers from Eric Hinske, the Yankees couldn't avoid another crushing defeat -- their 16th in the past 21 games at the Big A.
"They have weapons," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "They keep the pressure on you, and if you give them free baserunners or make errors and walk people, they're going to hurt you and they're going to score runs. They don't need a lot of hits to score runs."
The Angels infiltrated the soft underbelly of the Yankees' bullpen for the second time in less than 24 hours, following up on their successful chasing of Joba Chamberlain on Friday by pounding Pettitte in what escalated into a seven-run fifth inning.
"I couldn't stop it," Pettitte said. "That's as frustrating as it gets right there. Your team gives you a four-run lead against a good pitcher, a guy who's throwing the ball real well here, and I wasn't able to hold it. I really can't put my finger on it."
Having been staked to an early advantage against mound opponent Jered Weaver, Pettitte said he had felt as though he was cruising entering the inning; he had held the Angels hitless through three frames before Erick Aybar doubled and former Yankees outfielder Bobby Abreu drove him in.
"With Andy Pettitte, you have to be patient," Abreu said. "You know he's going to come at you, but you have to wait for your pitch. You can't get impatient and swing at his pitch. Our guys did a very good job of being disciplined with him. He's a smart guy who's been around a long time. I know what kind of pitcher he is, and to get him out of the game in the fifth inning, that's not easy."
After Brandon Wood belted a two-run homer, Pettitte couldn't clamp down the damage, leaving another pitch up to Abreu for a game-tying RBI single -- the last batter, Girardi said, that he had asked Pettitte to face.
"The bottom line is, if you don't pitch well, you're not going to win," said Pettitte, who allowed six earned runs for the third time in four starts. "If I throw the ball well and I get to the sixth inning with a 4-2 or 4-3 lead, it's completely different. I didn't do my job and that's really all there is to it."
Mike Napoli greeted reliever Dave Robertson with a two-run double up the gap in right-center field, and Howard Kendrick contributed a two-run single up the middle.
"We've got to be able to stop it," Girardi said. "It's one thing to give them one. We can't give them seven."
Chone Figgins chased Robertson in the sixth with an RBI triple, extending the lead to 9-4, and Napoli added a solo homer in the seventh off Brett Tomko before Phil Coke allowed four runs in the eighth to blow it wider open.
"It's like a merry-go-round. They just keep coming at you," Rodriguez said. "I think the best way to play the Angels is to get out to a lead and hold it, and keep adding on. That way you take away their game a little bit."
A-Rod belted a two-run shot off Weaver in the first inning and added a solo shot in the eighth off Jason Bulger. Hinske hit a solo homer of his own in the second off Weaver and a two-run shot in the seventh off Darren Oliver, and now has slugged three homers in his first nine at-bats with the Yankees.
He said that hitting coach Kevin Long has helped him focus more on his lower half rather than his hands.
"Home runs come in bunches, and I can't really explain why," Hinske said. "I just feel like I'm seeing the ball well and putting good swings on the ball."
Hideki Matsui followed A-Rod's second shot with a home run, the eighth time the Yankees have hit back-to-back homers this season. But Matt Palmer set down the side in the ninth inning with a six-run lead, sending the Yankees back to the hotel frustrated once more by this tough Angels club.
"They are built for the playoffs and to win those close games and to make those kinds of comebacks," Damon said. "If they get their pitching together, they are going to be a very tough team down the stretch."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.