NEW YORK (AP) — Joel Pineiro pitched seven impressive innings for his first win with his new team and the Los Angeles Angels showed signs of shaking their early slump, holding off the New York Yankees 5-3 on Wednesday.
Bobby Abreu and Kendry Morales each hit an RBI double off a rocky Javier Vazquez, and Los Angeles (3-6) finally got a first-rate performance on the mound after opening with its worst eight-game start since 1972.
Looking much more like the sound team that’s won three straight AL West titles and five in six years, the Angels were aggressive on the bases and made tough plays in the field.
Kevin Jepsen escaped an eighth-inning jam and Fernando Rodney, filling in for injured closer Brian Fuentes, got three quick outs for his first save.
Maybe that closed-door meeting manager Mike Scioscia held after Tuesday’s loss did the trick.
One day after receiving their 2009 World Series rings in an emotional ceremony before their home opener, the Yankees mustered little offense until late.
Mark Teixeira went hitless again and Alex Rodriguez struck out all three times up against Pineiro (1-1), who signed a $16 million, two-year contract with the Angels after going 15-12 with a 3.49 ERA for St. Louis last season.
The right-hander yielded five hits, struck out seven and walked none, with his sinking fastball causing fits for a dangerous New York lineup that featured seven left-handed hitters.
The Yankees scored twice in the eighth against Scot Shields on Nick Johnson’s RBI single and Teixeira’s run-scoring groundout. But Jepsen struck out Jorge Posada with runners at the corners to end the inning.
Los Angeles did not give up a home run for the first time this season. Through the first eight games of the year, Angels starters ranked last in the AL with a 1-6 record and 5.91 ERA.
Vazquez (0-2) is off to a rough start in his second stint with the Yankees – the first one ended unceremoniously in Game 7 of the 2004 AL championship series against Boston.
The right-hander has failed to finish the sixth inning in either of his first two starts this season, allowing 12 runs and 14 hits in 11 innings.
Pineiro allowed only one runner while cruising through the first four innings. Robinson Cano opened the fifth with a single, his second hit, and scored from third base with two outs when Nick Swisher lined a two-strike pitch up the wide-open alley in left-center.
Swisher chugged toward third and slid in headfirst with his seventh career triple, pounding the dirt in satisfaction after cutting New York’s deficit to one.
But the Angels answered immediately in the sixth, chasing Vazquez on ringing doubles by Torii Hunter and Morales. With two outs, Maicer Izturis’ run-scoring single made it 4-1.
No. 9 batter Brandon Wood, just 2 for 22 with seven strikeouts coming in, sparked a two-run rally for Los Angeles in the third. He hit a leadoff single, stole second and scored on Erick Aybar’s single. Abreu, who has nine homers in 74 at-bats against Vazquez, followed with an RBI double.
Hunter added a two-out RBI single off Alfredo Aceves in the seventh.
NOTES: Fuentes, a four-time All-Star, was placed on the 15-day disabled list before the game with a strained back. The move was made retroactive to April 6. … The Angels stole two bases, doubling their previous season total. … Yankees’ opponents were 10 for 10 in steal attempts before Abreu was caught at third in the third inning. … Wood ran a long way and tumbled onto the tarp after making a difficult catch of Teixeira’s foul pop behind third in the sixth. … Teixeira was 0 for 4 and is 3 for 31 (.097) this season. … Angels DH Hideki Matsui, who spent seven seasons in pinstripes and was last year’s World Series MVP, is 0 for 9 with four strikeouts through the first two games of the three-game set, a rematch of last year’s AL championship series, won by the Yankees in six games.