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Yanks take first loss despite four homers

Yanks take first loss despite four homers

ANAHEIM -- Some three hours before the first pitch of Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Monday, a thought concerning Joe Girardi's bullpen piqued the manager's interest. Instinctively reaching for a thick binder under his desk, he pulled out a number to prove his point.

Eleven innings later, Girardi would again turn to his reams of hard data and discover that they do not contain all of the answers. Girardi called on Alfredo Aceves, who served up a game-winning hit to Jeff Mathis as the Angels defeated the Yankees, 5-4.

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Girardi's decision to strip the ball from Dave Robertson after he recorded the first two outs of the 11th inning highlighted a sequence of curious decisions by the first-year postseason manager, who suffered his first defeat after running off five victories against the Twins and Angels.

"It's just different kind of stuff against those hitters," Girardi said. "We have all of the matchups and all of the scouting reports. We felt that it was a better matchup for us. It didn't work."

Summoned to neutralize a good fastball hitter in Howard Kendrick, Aceves instead surrendered a hard hit up the middle. Mathis followed by pelting the padding of the left-field wall, chasing the winning run around and electrifying a sellout crowd of 44,911 at Angel Stadium.

"It's unfortunate," Johnny Damon said. "We definitely had our chances, and they battled back. You can never count them out, because they always compete and find a way. We just didn't execute."

That reliance on scouting reports and computerized data by Girardi was foreshadowed by his quick trigger hours before the game, when he whipped out pitch data without hesitation to answer a reporter's question concerning Robertson's appearance in Game 2 of the ALCS.

AL Championship Series
Gm. 1 NYY 4, LAA 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 NYY 4, LAA 3 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 LAA 5, NYY 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 NY 10, LAA 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 LAA 7, NYY 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 6 NYY 5, LAA 2 Wrap Video

Robertson said that he was given no explanation by Girardi other than "Great job," and the right-hander said that he had been physically fine to continue. Robertson admitted to being surprised to see Girardi coming to get the ball, but he couldn't fault the decision.

"I could have stayed out there and given it up, too," Robertson said. "You never know."

On an afternoon when the two clubs combined for six home runs and Mariano Rivera executed an escape in a nail-biting 10th inning, New York's offense was powered exclusively by the long ball, capped by Jorge Posada's game-tying blast off Kevin Jepsen in the eighth.

The Yankees needed to stage late-inning magic after the Rally Monkey emerged in the seventh, as Girardi pulled Andy Pettitte after 6 1/3 innings of strong ball. Joba Chamberlain served up a Kendrick triple that set up a pinch-hit sacrifice fly by Maicer Izturis, the goat of Game 2. The Yankees had previously been 30-0 in ALCS games in which they led by three or more runs.

"There was a lot of great baseball on that field this afternoon," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "There were a lot of twists and turns, and both teams played a terrific game. We just got it done at the end."

AN OVER-THE-WALL GAME
The Yankees and Angels combined for six home runs in Game 3, resulting in a number of postseason rarities
Six home runs have been hit three other times in an LCS game. But the record is seven:
1. Florida (4) Cubs (3) -- Oct. 7, 2003 (11 inn)
2. NYM (4) StL(3) -- Oct 15, 2006
3. Bos (4) Tampa (3) -- Oct. 11, 2008 (11 inn)
Angels starter Jered Weaver allowed 3 home runs. The record for a postseason game is 4, done many times, last by the Twins' Rick Reed vs. the A's on Oct. 4, 2002. In 1998, the Yankees' Andy Pettitte allowed four against the Indians.
The Yankees became just the second team in history to lose an ALCS game while hitting four home runs. The other was last year when the Rays defeated the Red Sox, 9-8, in Game 1. The Yankees have now hit four home runs in a postseason game 13 times.
The Yankees have hit 142 home runs in 85 games at the new Yankee Stadium this season, an average of 1.67 per game. With four on Monday at Angel Stadium, they now have 15 in seven games there this year, an average of 2.14.
The Yankees now have 12 postseason homers in 6 games -- 9 solo homers and 3 two-run homers. With four solo homers Monday, the last time they did that in a postseason game had been Oct. 9, 1928, in the World Series at St. Louis. They actually had five that day with Babe Ruth hitting three, while Lou Gehrig and Cedric Durst each had one.
Only 1 team - the 1984 Cubs -- has hit five in an LCS game. Homering that day against the Padres at Wrigley Field were Ron Cey, Bobby Dernier, Gary Matthews (2), and Rick Sutcliffe.
Vlad Guerrero's sixth-inning home run was his first in the postseason in 86 at-bats, since 2004, when he hit a grand slam vs. the Red Sox. It was also his first home run since Sept. 18.
The Yankees had been 30-0 in ALCS games when leading by 3-plus runs. On Monday, they led 3-0 before Howard Kendrick homered in the bottom of the fifth. The closest the Yankees had come to relinquishing a three-run lead in the past was in the fifth and final game of the 1976 ALCS against the Royals. The Yankees led, 6-3, but George Brett tied the game in the 8th with a 3-run homer off Grant Jackson. The Yankees won it in the bottom of the ninth on a series-winning home run by Chris Chambliss.

Angels right-hander Jered Weaver served up New York's three other homers in his five innings, with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Damon all connecting for bases-empty blasts off the Angels' starter.

Jeter started the top of the first inning with his 20th career postseason home run, and in the fourth, A-Rod added his fourth home run of the postseason, a long drive into the left-field bleachers.

It was a familiar sight at Angel Stadium, where A-Rod has belted 37 homers in 89 regular-season games. In the fifth, Damon took advantage of the three-foot wall in right field, giving the Yankees a 3-0 lead at the time.

But the Bombers were on thin ice, hurt by a pair of missed opportunities in the second and fourth innings. New York had runners at first and third with one out in both frames and did not score, as Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera were snuffed by Weaver.

"Not being able to get it done there is probably part of the reason we lost the game," Girardi said.

The Yankees finished 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and have not had a hit in such a situation since Jeter's RBI single in the sixth inning of Game 1.

"We've got to swing the bats better," Jeter said. "We're due."

Working deliberately in his 37th career postseason start, Pettitte succeeded in holding the Angels' running game to a minimum -- including a fourth-inning pickoff of Torii Hunter -- but the left-hander was eventually bit by two homers.

Kendrick set off fireworks in the fifth with the first homer surrendered by a Yankees pitcher this postseason. An inning later, Vladimir Guerrero launched a two-run game-tying shot into the Angels' bullpen, connecting on a thigh-high fastball that was delivered after Girardi went to the mound.

"I hated that I wasn't able to get that last out and turn it over to our bullpen," Pettitte said. "It's all about making pitches. You make a mistake and you get hurt. I made a mistake to their No. 4 hitter."

Pettitte was done after getting a lineout for the first out of the seventh inning, with Girardi turning to Chamberlain, who coughed up the lead before Posada rescued the Yankees. Pettitte said that he could not second-guess the change after throwing 95 pitches.

"You know the way Joe is managing right now and how he feels about our bullpen," Pettitte said. "It's been doing a great job. Any time you come out, you want to be in there. It's nerve-racking sitting in here. You'd rather be on the mound doing it."

Rivera had to walk a high wire to escape an incredible 10th inning, relieving after Mathis chased Phil Hughes with a double. Rivera threw away a bunt for a fielder's choice, backed up by Damon in left field, then got three Angels to hit the ball to Mark Teixeira at first base and strand the bases loaded.

"It doesn't matter what we did or I did," Rivera said. "We lost."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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