Published November 20, 2014
Scott Downs refused to let Maicer Izturis take the blame for this loss.
Downs gave up a grand slam to Robinson Cano after Izturis botched a routine grounder with two outs in the seventh inning, and the New York Yankees beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-5 Thursday.
"I'm brought into that type of (tight) situation. The game's still on the line. It's just another guy on base," Downs said. "You've still got to make the pitch."
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera gave up a three-run homer to pinch-hitter Russell Branyan on his first pitch in the ninth before getting two outs for his 30th save — the third straight game in which the closer struggled.
"As much as we want to think that he's about as close to the perfect closer as we have seen, he's not perfect," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
It was 2-all in the seventh when Mark Teixeira hit a routine bouncer toward Izturis, but the ball hit off the second baseman's glove when he looked for the throw before securing the ball. Two pitches later, Cano lined a shot from off the facing of the second deck in right field for his 20th homer of the year and fifth career slam.
"I was thinking about going to first base," Izturis said. "It was slow and I went too hard."
Relegated to cheerleader since losing his designated hitter job last weekend, Jorge Posada urged Cano out of the dugout for a curtain call.
"It's a great feeling," Cano said. "Especially, he made a mistake and we made them pay."
Curtis Granderson followed his two double-play balls with a tying, two-run homer off Tyler Chatwood in the sixth for the Yankees.
Alberto Callaspo had given the Angels a 2-0 lead with a two-run homer off Bartolo Colon in the fifth before the Yankees rallied to win the three-game series after dropping the opener.
"This is one of the few games this year where not making plays defensively cost us," manager Mike Scioscia said. "You're almost out of that seventh inning and, obviously, they took advantage of a mistake and we just couldn't get back."
Fernando Rodney (2-4) gave up two walks in the seventh for the Angels, who lost just their second series in the last 16 (13-2-1).
Derek Jeter had three singles — two infield hits — and a walk to raise his average in day games to .352 (38 for 108).
Rafael Soriano (2-1) allowed his first baserunner — Bobby Wilson's one-out single — since returning from the disabled list July 29 in the seventh. He extended his scoreless stretch to six innings by getting two flyouts after the hit.
Cory Wade gave up two one-out hits in the ninth before giving way for Rivera. Branyan hit Rivera's first pitch, just clearing the wall in right-center.
Branyan was aware Rivera blew a save against Boston and Bobby Abreu hit a tiebreaking homer against him Tuesday.
"For a three-game stretch, I've never seen him get hit this way," Branyan said. "I was just aggressive because he's always come after me."
New York had runners on base in each of the first four innings, with Brett Gardner advancing to third base with one out in the third. But Chatwood got inning-ending double plays from Granderson in the first and third, each coming after Jeter singled.
Granderson came through after Jeter's infield hit in the sixth, though. He lofted Chatwood's pitch on a high arc and right fielder Torii Hunter ranged back and waited to see if the ball would clear the wall. It did, and Granderson had his fourth homer in the series.
Erick Aybar snapped an 0-for-30 skid with a slow roller that made it about halfway up the third-base line for a single. Callaspo then turned on a 2-2 pitch, pulling it into the second deck down the right field line for a 2-0 lead.
Colon gave up two runs and five hits against his former team. He walked two and struck out three.
Chatwood was as calm and efficient as his 38-year-old opponent, the 2005 Cy Young Award winner. He yielded eight hits and two runs in 5 1-3 innings.
"Tyler battled. He had real good life on the fastball, real good movement," Scioscia said. "I think the one thing that hurt him is he got behind in some counts as the game went on."
NOTES: It was Branyan's fifth carer homer as a pinch-hitter. ... Scioscia would not identify a starter for Monday against Texas. He did say the starter will come from the big league club, not a callup. ... The Angels travel next to Toronto. Ervin Santana (8-8) faces Brandon Morrow (8-6) on Friday night. Santana is 5-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his past eight starts. ... The Yankees play host to the Tampa Bay Rays. A matchup of aces: CC Sabathia (16-6) vs. David Price.