The chants for Mariano Rivera began after Boone Logan allowed a leadoff single in the ninth inning and swelled while David Robertson warmed up one out later.
For at least one night, there would be no "Enter Sandman" and no career saves leader.
Robertson wriggled out of a bases loaded jam, preserving Hiroki Kuroda’s gem and the New York Yankees’ 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.
"Just a day," Rivera said. "Nothing’s wrong."
The 43-year-old Rivera tossed 81 pitches the last five days in blowing three consecutive save chances, the roughest patch of his 19-year career. Rivera spoke with pitching coach Larry Rothschild before the game and said he could pitch but preferred a day off.
"Mo’s never going to back out on a situation. Never," manager Joe Girardi said. "And that’s where a pitching coach and a manager — you have to manage a player. Sometimes they just need a day no matter if they want to go out there a lot."
Fans chanted "We want Mo!" after Logan relieved to begin the ninth and allowed a leadoff single to J.B. Shuck that hit first base.
After Logan struck out Kole Calhoun, Robertson entered and heard cries for Rivera while he threw his warm-up pitches.
"A little different," Robertson said. "It’s not easy to pitch when the crowd’s chanting `We want Mo!’ when you’re warming up."
Robertson walked Mike Trout, and Josh Hamilton followed with a flare just beyond the reach of third baseman Alex Rodriguez for an RBI double.
Erick Aybar was intentionally walked to load the bases. Robertson then struck out Mark Trumbo and ex-Yankee Chris Nelson on a high, full-count pitch to end it for his first save this season.
"It was time for Robby to close, which he did good, too," Rivera said.
Kuroda (11-7) tossed three-hit ball for eight shutout innings.
The Yankees’ most dependable starter, Kuroda has not allowed a run in five of his last seven outings to lower his ERA to 2.33. An Angels lineup missing the injured Albert Pujols reached base only four times against the Japanese right-hander. Kuroda struck out seven and walked one.
"I don’t know if you can expect anyone to be that dominant in this day and age when there’s a lot of ways teams can score runs, but he’s just been brilliant," Girardi said of Kuroda. "He gave us those eight innings. We knew we needed a lot of distance out of him tonight."
Curtis Granderson homered in the seventh inning and Brett Gardner had an RBI single in the third for New York, which has won three of four after losing four in a row. The Yankees have consecutive wins for the first time since winning three straight July 10-12.
Granderson connected off Garrett Richards for his third homer of the season in his 59th at-bat of an injury-plagued season.
"I’m getting there," Granderson said. "There’s no way to mirror the four months I missed. The timing is not there right now."
Richards (3-4) was impressive in his first start at Yankee Stadium since his big league debut in 2011. He allowed seven hits in eight innings and made several nice plays on comebackers.
"Garrett was terrific," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I thought he had really good stuff: mixed in his breaking pitches with his fastball. That was a terrific game for Garrett."
Rodriguez started at third base for the second straight day for the first time since returning from hip surgery last week. The fickle New York fans gave him a mixed reception when he came to the plate it in the first, and cheered when he singled. But the boos grew as he hit into two 6-4-3 double plays, one in the fourth and another in the sixth, the latter with runners on first and second and one out.
Batting .221 in his first year with Los Angeles, Hamilton doubled to open the second, but grounded into a double play after Trout had an infield hit leading off the seventh for the Angels’ second hit.
"He kept us off balance," Trout said of Kuroda. "A lot of fastball counts, he threw off-speed and, like I said, kept us off balance."
Rodriguez got New York’s first hit, a leadoff single in the second, but he was caught running on Lyle Overbay’s strikeout to end a 10-pitch at-bat.
Eduardo Nunez singled with one out in the third, advanced on Chris Stewart’s groundout and scored on Gardner’s single.
NOTES: Trout’s high school baseball field in New Jersey was dedicated in his honor earlier Monday in a ceremony at the Empire State Building. … Angels LHP Jason Vargas (6-4) is set to come off the disabled list (blood clot) Tuesday and start against CC Sabathia (9-10). Scioscia would not say who will be coming out of the rotation. … Yankees SS (right calf strain) Derek Jeter began "tee and toss" today in the indoor cage. … Trout appeared on a New York sports radio station earlier Monday and said PED users "should be out of the game if you get caught." When asked about his comments later in the Angels clubhouse, he referred all questions to the team’s player rep, C.J. Wilson.