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They celebrated with Nick Adenhart in victory, dousing his No. 34 jersey in champagne and beer after clinching the division title in September and holding it aloft as they left the Fenway Park field after beating the Boston Red Sox in the first round of the playoffs.

Sunday night, the Angels cried with Adenhart in defeat, holding close to their teammate, the 22-year-old pitcher who was killed in an April 9 automobile crash just hours after throwing six shutout innings the night before.

Never far from their thoughts throughout a trying 2009 season, Adenhart was again on their minds after the New York Yankees beat the Angels, 5-2, in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series to clinch their 40th AL pennant and World Series berth.


“We played this season for Nick, and it’s a bummer that we came up short,” pitcher Jered Weaver said in a quiet Angels clubhouse after the Yankees won the best-of-seven series, four games to two.

“We faced a lot of challenges over the course of the season, and we showed how tough we were. Our goal was to win the World Series, but we have nothing to hang our heads about.”

Manager Mike Scioscia saluted the Yankees, who will open a New Jersey Turnpike World Series against the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night in New York, but he also tipped his cap to the Angels.

“The trials and tribulations that the guys in that clubhouse went through all year is something that you hope you never have to go through in your lifetime again,” Scioscia said.

“It was a special group in there to keep going, to keep bringing Nick’s memory forward every day. Every day we came to the park, he was still with us. And I’m sure we’ll have a little peace in that as we move forward. Right now, this loss obviously hurts.”

It wasn’t quite as stinging as last year’s division series loss to the Red Sox, when ace John Lackey said he wanted to “throw somebody through a wall.” The Angels thought they were the better team last October. They did not this October.


“They’re a great team,” Lackey, who will become a free agent this winter, said of the Yankees. “We would have had to have played pretty perfect to win this series, for sure, and we didn’t do that.”

The Angels led the major leagues with a .285 average this season; they hit .236 (51 for 216) in six games against New York, and leadoff batter Chone Figgins might have cost himself millions in free agency by batting .086 (three for 35) in nine playoff games.

The Angels set a club record for fewest errors, with 85; they committed eight errors against the Yankees, including two on bunt plays that gift-wrapped a pair of insurance runs for New York in the eighth inning Sunday night. They also issued nine walks.

Asked if someone would have told him before the series that the Angels would commit eight errors, pitcher Joe Saunders, who gave up three runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings, walking five and striking out none Sunday night, shook his head.

“I would have laughed in your face,” Saunders said. “We’ve been so good defensively all season. Once the flood started, it was hard to stop.”

The errors didn’t cost the Angels the game Sunday -- veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte pitched brilliantly, giving up one run in 6 1/3 innings, and even after the Angels dinged closer Mariano Rivera for a run on Vladimir Guerrero’s RBI single in the eighth, the Yankees had a 3-2 lead.


But the miscues, one by second baseman Howie Kendrick, who dropped first baseman Kendry Morales’ throw on Nick Swisher’s bunt, and one by pitcher Scott Kazmir, who overthrew Kendrick on Melky Cabrera’s bunt, left a bitter taste in the Angels’ mouths.

“They capitalized on every mistake we made,” center fielder Torii Hunter said. “We were sound defensively all season, and we got into the playoffs, and things happened. I don’t know why. It’s probably mental.

“We didn’t play Angels-style baseball. We might have played it for one or two games, but we let things get away from us.”

Things got away from Saunders quickly Sunday -- 12 of the 23 batters he faced reached base, and he was fortunate to give up only three runs.

The Angels took a 1-0 lead in the third when Jeff Mathis led off with a double, his seventh hit in eight playoff at-bats, and scored on Bobby Abreu’s two-out single to right.

Saunders escaped two-on, two-out jams in the first and second innings but unraveled after walking Robinson Cano to open the fourth.


Swisher, who was hitting .100 (three for 30) in the postseason, singled to left, and both runners advanced on Cabrera’s bunt.

Derek Jeter walked to load the bases, and Johnny Damon lined a two-run single to left-center for a 2-1 lead. Mark Teixeira’s infield single loaded the bases, and Alex Rodriguez walked to force in a run that made it 3-1.

Scioscia pulled Saunders in favor of left-hander Darren Oliver, who got Jorge Posada to ground into an inning-ending double play and added a scoreless fifth and sixth.

But Pettitte, with runners on second and third, knocked down Morales’ comebacker and threw to first to end the sixth inning, and the Yankees pulled away in the eighth.

“It’s frustrating, it stinks, to be honest with you, but they beat us fair and square,” Hunter said. “We overcame a lot of obstacles this year -- the death of a teammate, a lot of injuries to key players -- and we just battled. We have nothing to hang our heads about.”




Going out with a bang?

In what could have been his final game as an Angel, Guerrero has three hits and twice jaws at the plate umpire.