Yanks avoid getting swept by Angels

It was hard not to get that here-we-go-ahead feeling in the first inning Wednesday night when Curtis Granderson doubled with one out and was stranded at second as Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano struck out. Two more fruitless at-bats with a runner in scoring position was a poor early sign for the Yankees.

The Angels struggled just as much in that circumstance in the bottom half. They loaded the bases against Ivan Nova on a hit batter, a single and a walk with none out and made the least of it with merely one run on a sacrifice fly by Mark Trumbo, who would do much more damage later on.

The Yankees finally got a hit with a runner in scoring position in the third on Granderson’s 16th home run, a three-run shot to right off Ervin Santana. After Santana struck A-Rod with a pitch, Cano slammed a two-run homer to right. It was the fifth career homer for each off Santana, who seemed headed for an early exit but eventually made it through five innings.

Ivan Nova could not have been in a better situation, but for the second time in this series a Yankees starter could not hold an early lead. Phil Hughes squandered a 3-0 lead Monday night, and Nova spit out the 5-1 advantage in the fourth. A leadoff walk spelled trouble, particularly since it came in front of Trumbo, who turned around a 95-mph fastball for a two-run home run to right.

The Yankees had had their fill of Trumbo, who won Monday night’s game with a ninth-inning home run, also homered Tuesday night and had the Yankees nervous when he had a chance to win Wednesday night’s game in the ninth again. For the series, Trumbo had 8-for-15 (.533) with one double, one triple, three home runs and six RBI.

The Angels kept it up against Nova. A well-placed bunt by catcher Bobby Wilson in front of Rodriguez playing deep at third base gave the Angels runners at first and second with two out. Both scored on a double to right-center by Mike Trout, which gave him four RBI in the series, to make it 5-5.

Wilson might not have been able to score except that right fielder Nick Swisher missed both cutoff men. Swish made up for the rock two innings later by regaining the lead for the Yankees on a sacrifice fly that scored Raul Ibanez, who tripled off reliever Hisanori Takahashi. It was poetic justice for Swisher, who was robbed of a home run and another extra- base hit by Angels outfielders Tuesday night.

Nova didn’t cough up the lead this time and ended up extending his unbeaten streak on the road to 13 starts during which he is 10-0 with a 3.61 ERA. He lasted two outs into the seventh and got huge backup support from Cory Wade after Boone Logan allowed a pair of two-out singles upon Nova’s departure.

Wade, who gave up the game-winner to Trumbo Monday night, struck out Howie Kendrick to end the seventh and pitched a perfect eighth with two more punchouts. Rafael Soriano had to sweat for his sixth save as the Angels had runners on first and second with two out and Trumbo at the plate. No heroics this time as he flied out to left.

Despite losing two of the three games in Anaheim, the Yankees pulled to 1 ½ games of the first-place Orioles and Rays in the American League East. The Yanks also stayed a half-game ahead of the hard-charging Blue Jays, who swept a three-game set from Baltimore.

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