Mark Teixeira hit a two-run triple on a play that caused Angels center fielder Torii Hunter to lose a shoe, then doubled to start the go-ahead rally in the eighth inning that led the New York Yankees over Los Angeles 5-3 Monday night in a possible playoff preview.
New York broke a 3-all tie when pinch-runner Brett Gardner took third as part of a double steal and came home as catcher Mike Napoli bounced the throw past third baseman Chone Figgins for an error. Robinson Cano added a run-scoring single, and Mariano Rivera finished to reach 40 saves for the first time in four years and the seventh time in his career.
The Angels' Vladimir Guerrero and New York's Nick Swisher homered in the makeup of a May 3 rainout to raise the total at new Yankee Stadium to 217 _ two more than were ever hit in a season at the original ballpark across the street.
New York opened a 7 1/2-game lead over second-place Boston in the AL East with 17 to play. The Yankees also took a six-game lead over the Angels for best record in the AL and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
With the score tied in the eighth, Teixeira doubled off Jered Weaver (15-6) with one out and Alex Rodriguez walked. Darren Oliver relieved, Gardner ran for Teixeira, and the Yankees went ahead when the runners stole on a 1-1 pitch to Hideki Matsui.
Weaver gave up five runs, eight hits and four walks 7 1-3 innings, while Joba Chamberlain allowed one run and four hits in four innings and was pulled after 67 pitches. After limiting his pitch count to as few as 35 in recent starts, the Yankees are allowing him to gradually build back up.
Guerrero put the Angels on top when he homered in the second. Swisher connected in the third _ with both drives landing in the second deck.
Figgins' RBI grounder gave the Angels a 2-1 lead in the fifth, which turned strange in the bottom half.
New York had runners at second and third with one out following Swisher's double, Melky Cabrera's walk and Derek Jeter's sacrifice. Johnny Damon then hit a bouncer to third that could have driven in the tying run. Cabrera, who was on second, jumped to avoid the ball but ran into Figgins and was called out for interference.
Teixeira, who left the Angels last winter to sign with the Yankees as a free agent, followed with a drive off the center-field wall _ he pointed at catcher Jeff Mathis as he ran to first, claiming interference. Hunter appeared to have trouble picking up the ball, one of his spikes came off as he hit against the wall and he chased the ball wearing one shoe. Teixeira wound up with his first triple since Aug. 11, 2007.
With two on and one out in the seventh, Phil Coke relieved and threw a called third strike past Figgins, who muttered at plate umpire Derryl Cousins. Coke then retired Maicer Izturis on a grounder to shortstop, with Jeter grabbing the ball near second and spinning to make the throw.
Kendry Morales hit into a tying double-play grounder in the eighth after Los Angeles loaded the bases with no outs against winner Phil Hughes (7-3).
The Angels, who began the day six games ahead of second-place Texas in the AL West, were being forced to play three games in three days in three cities and arrived in New York from California between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m.
They've gone 34-20 against the Yankees in the regular season since 2004 and eliminated New York in the first round of the playoffs in 2002 and 2005.
"I think sometimes people look at the Angels and they don't give them enough credit for how good they are. This is a very good team and they've been a very good team for a long time," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I think it's important to beat them."
If the standings stay the same, the Angels would host Boston and the Yankees would be home against Detroit in the AL playoff openers. Hunter, the Angels' All-Star center fielder, has been impressed by what he's seen of the Yankees.
"This year, I think it's something different about those guys," he said. "It's a fire, some kind of fire, I see in those guys. It's totally different."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia downplayed his team's success against New York.
"You go back six or seven years, it's a whole different group of players, group of matchups," he said. "We by no means have dominated those guys."
NOTES: After hitting 21 of his first 24 homers on the road, Swisher has three straight at Yankee Stadium. ... There were lots of empty premium seats. Attendance was announced at 44,301, the lowest at Yankee Stadium since a makeup game on July 23, with a turnstile count of 30,070.