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Angels Out of Running in Loss to the Yankees

Times Staff Writer

Kelvim Escobar put the Angels in an early hole Saturday, giving up five runs in a second inning that featured Robinson Cano’s three-run home run and Johnny Damon’s two-run homer.

Just when it seemed the Angels might claw their way out, Vladimir Guerrero kept dragging them back in.

The Angels’ ferocious and fearless slugger has been known to sprinkle an occasional gaffe with his prodigious feats at the plate and in the field, and his self-destructive behavior on the basepaths cost the Angels dearly Saturday.

Guerrero was thrown out at third to end the first inning and picked off second with a runner on third to end the sixth, killing two potential rallies in the Angels’ 5-2 loss to the New York Yankees. Guerrero declined to speak to reporters afterward.

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“It’s easy to sit back after the game and say those plays didn’t help us,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “But the vast majority of time, our aggressive baserunning is going to help us.”

There is a fine line between aggressive and reckless baserunning, though, and Guerrero crossed it Saturday. In the first, he tried to go from first to third on Juan Rivera’s two-out, run-scoring single but was easily gunned down by right fielder Bobby Abreu, who has one of baseball’s better outfield arms.

“His read was OK, but he was tentative around second,” said Scioscia. “If you think there’s a play at the plate, you want to keep moving. When he decided to go to third, the play at the plate was no longer there, and Abreu made the right decision to go to third.”

With two out in the sixth, and Orlando Cabrera on third and Guerrero on second, Yankees catcher Jorge Posada caught Guerrero taking too long of a secondary lead and threw to shortstop Derek Jeter, who applied the tag to end the inning.

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“Vladdy is an aggressive player, whether he’s playing defense or swinging the bat -- that’s the way he plays,” Escobar said. “He’s our best player, so you can’t really say anything. But at the same time, with two outs, you have to be careful. You don’t want to kill an inning like that.”

Escobar (8-10) made a few mistakes Saturday too. With two on in the second, he tried to sneak a slider past the left-handed hitting Cano, who drove it into the right-center field seats for his sixth homer of the season and a 3-0 lead.

“I never really throw my slider to left-handers -- I don’t know what I was trying to do there,” Escobar said. “Usually I throw my two-seam fastball, changeup or split-fingered fastball. I tried something different, and it didn’t work.

“It did in my last game” at Chicago last Monday. “I had success against Jim Thome and some other lefties. But if you’re going to pitch inside here, you have to execute a quality pitch because right field is only 314 feet away. You have to be careful.”

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Bernie Williams followed Cano’s homer with a single, and Damon then hit his 16th home run of the season, a two-out shot to right, to give the Yankees a 5-1 lead.

Escobar finished with four scoreless innings, but the Angels managed only two hits in 5 1/3 innings off Yankees starter Jaret Wright, who courted disaster all afternoon by pitching his way into six 3-and-1 counts and walking four batters. Of Wright’s 83 pitches, only 42 were strikes.

“He pitched just well enough to keep himself and his team in the game,” Scioscia said of Wright. “His pitch count was up and we got into a couple of deep counts, but we couldn’t keep pressure on him and pound him to get back into the game.”


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