Im­prob­a­ble rally falls short

Trail­ing by seven, An­gels have a wild six-run ninth but can’t fin­ish the come­back.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Mike DiGio­vanna mike.digio­vanna@la­times.com Twit­ter: @MikeDiGio­vanna

NEW YORK — The white flag went up in the bot­tom of the eighth in­ning Fri­day night with the An­gels trail­ing the New York Yan­kees by seven runs. Manager Mike Scios­cia pulled the top three hit­ters in his lineup, the heav­ily worked Erick Ay­bar, Mike Trout and Al­bert Pu­jols, es­sen­tially con­ced­ing the game.

Then some wild and wacky stuff started hap­pen­ing at Yan­kee Sta­dium, where a rou­tine popup dropped be­tween two in­field­ers, a pair of New York re­liev­ers couldn’t find the strike zone, and a sel­do­mused An­gels re­serve with an .034 av­er­age banged a dou­ble off the left-field wall.

The An­gels paired the Yan­kees’ char­ity with some clutch hits to forge an im­prob­a­ble six-run rally in the ninth, mov­ing to the brink of a his­toric come­back be­fore setup man Dellin Be­tances struck out pinch-hit­ter Car­los Perez with two on to save a nail-biter of an 8-7 victory for the Yan­kees.

“Oh man, our bench was alive,” Scios­cia said. “We got close. We made them use some pitch­ing, which is a plus. That ninth in­ning was fun, but un­for­tu­nately, we couldn’t push an­other run across.”

Jered Weaver put the An­gels in a huge hole, giv­ing up seven runs and nine hits, in­clud­ing three home runs, in 52⁄ innings, and re­liever Edgar Ibarra was touched for a run in the sev­enth.

The Yan­kees sent mopup man Es­mil Rogers out for the ninth with an 8-1 lead. Manager Joe Gi­rardi pulled five-time Gold Glove Award­win­ning first base­man Mark Teix­eira and sec­ond base­man Stephen Drew. Third base­man Chase Headley moved to first, and Jose Pirela en­tered at sec­ond.

Johnny Gi­avotella sin­gled to cen­ter, and Tay­lor Feather­ston, who re­placed Ay­bar at short­stop, dou­bled to left for his sec­ond hit in 30 at-bats this sea­son.

Grant Green, who re­placed Trout in the sec­ond spot, fol­lowed with a popup to the right side. A mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween Headley and Pirela al­lowed the ball to drop for a run-scor­ing sin­gle that made it 8-2.

Efren Navarro, who re­placed Pu­jols, walked to load the bases, and Kole Cal­houn sin­gled for a run that made it 8-3. Out went Rogers. In came Be­tances, the big right-han­der who hadn’t given up an earned run in 291⁄ innings over 26 ap­pear­ances this sea­son.

David Freese hit a tworun sin­gle to cen­ter to make it 8-5, Matt Joyce walked to load the bases, and Chris Ian­netta walked on a full­count pitch to force in a run that made it 8-6. The bases were still loaded. There were no outs. Kirk Nieuwen­huis was up.

“You’re down, 8-1, against a big league pitcher, there’s a slim-to-none chance we can come back,” Gi­avotella said. “But we bat­tled back, we had great at-bats and just kept mov­ing the line. … When we had the bases loaded and Kirk was up, I was like, ‘Man, this is right at our fin­ger­tips.’ ”

But it was just out of reach. Nieuwen­huis struck out, and short­stop Didi Gre­go­rius made a back­hand, div­ing stop of Gi­avotella’s grounder, throw­ing to sec­ond for a force­out as Freese scored to make it 8-7.

Scios­cia, think­ing the .309-hit­ting Perez would have a bet­ter chance of putting the ball in play than Feather­ston, sent the backup catcher up to hit. Perez struck out to end the game.

Had the An­gels come back and won, it would have matched the largest ninthin­ning deficit over­come in fran­chise his­tory, when they ral­lied for eight runs in the ninth and beat the Detroit Tigers, 13-12, on Dick Schofield’s walk-off grand slam on Aug. 29, 1986.

“If the lineup came around again, you’d like to have those guys back in the game,” Scios­cia said of Ay­bar, Trout and Pu­jols. “But down 8-1 in the eighth, we’d do it again. We needed to get them off their feet. Those guys went in there and got it started for us, and they al­most fin­ished it off.”

Frank Franklin II As­so­ci­ated Press

MARK TEIX­EIRA hits a two-run homer in the third for the Yan­kees, who al­most let an 8-1 lead get away.

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