By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Yankees collected their World Series rings before celebrating with a 7-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels in the Yankee Stadium season-opening game on Tuesday.
Nick Johnson homered in the first inning and Derek Jeter cleared the fence in the third to launch a 13-hit attack that backed the impressive pitching of Andy Pettitte and boosted the New Yorkers to a 5-2 record this season.
Los Angeles made a game of it with former Yankee Bobby Abreu's grand slam home run in the top of the ninth off reliever David Robertson.
Closer Mariano Rivera sealed the victory, retiring Torii Hunter and Hideki Matsui, the MVP of last year's World Series triumph over the Philadelphia Phillies, who received a standing ovation when he got his Series ring.
Pettitte picked up his first win of the season, limiting Los Angeles to five hits in six shutout innings of work. The left-hander struck out six and walked three.
Angels starter Ervin Santana (0-2) took the loss as his team dropped to 2-6 for the season.
Catcher Jorge Posada, who along with Jeter, Pettitte and Rivera, form the Yankees 'core of four' who have played in New York's last five World Series wins, also weighed in with three hits and two runs batted in.
"Andy won the last game last year and the first one this year, Derek had some big hits, so did Jorge and Mo closed it out. It is appropriate."
Before the game, which drew nearly 50,000 fans, Girardi and Jeter went up to the team offices and presented the first ring to 79-year-old George Steinbrenner, who has now ceded control of the team to his son Hal.
"One of the best parts of my day, going up and giving the ring to Mr Steinbrenner, who has given me the opportunity to win three as a player and a ring as manager," Girardi said. "It was a thrill to give it to him and see the smile on his face."
(Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Ed Osmond)