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Rodriguez homers, Yankees lead Angels through 6

ALCS Yankees Angels Baseball

Rodriguez homers, Yankees lead Angels through 6

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run homer, CC Sabathia held the Los Angeles Angels in check while pitching on short rest and the New York Yankees built a 5-1 lead through six innings Tuesday night in Game 4 of the AL championship series.

Trying to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, the Yankees got another big hit from Rodriguez. He has driven in at least one run in eight consecutive postseason games, tying the record shared by Lou Gehrig and Ryan Howard, who will attempt to extend his streak Wednesday night when the Phillies host the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLCS.

After consecutive extra-inning games that took a combined 9 hours, 31 minutes, the Yankees and Angels played the first six innings in 2 hours, 37 minutes. New York also got a two-run single from Melky Cabrera.

Kendry Morales homered for Los Angeles.

Angels left-hander Scott Kazmir threw 89 pitches in four-plus innings, allowing four runs, six hits and four walks. Two of his three strikeouts were against Mark Teixeira, who came in 7 for 11 lifetime against him.

Six players in the Yankees’ lineup came into the game with at least 24 at-bats and a career average under .200 against the left-hander — Rodriguez (.125), Derek Jeter (.111), Johnny Damon (.167), Hideki Matsui (.179), Robinson Cano (.154) and switch-hitting Nick Swisher (.185).

The Yankees, who were 30-0 in ALCS play when holding a lead of three or more runs prior to Monday’s 5-4 loss, finally broke through against Kazmir with three in the fourth after getting the leadoff man on in each of the first three innings without any success.

Rodriguez started the rally with a leadoff single, went to third on Jorge Posada‘s double inside third base and scored one out later when second baseman Howie Kendrick fielded Cano’s grounder and made a high throw to the plate that prevented Mike Napoli from getting the tag down in time. Swisher walked and Cabrera followed with a two-run single.

The Angels got a break that inning when Swisher was called out for leaving third base too soon on Damon’s fly to center field. Swisher was called out on an appeal, resulting in an inning-ending double play — though replays appeared to show Swisher did not leave early.

But the Yankees made it 5-0 in the fifth, as Teixeira chased Kazmir with a leadoff single and Rodriguez drove Jason Bulger‘s second pitch to left field for his fifth home run of the postseason and third in three games.

The Angels were on the wrong end of two blown calls by the umpires that inning, one by Dale Scott at second base after Swisher was clearly tagged before he could get back to the bag on a pickoff throw by Darren Oliver.

Moments later, Cabrera hit a comebacker to Oliver, who immediately threw to the plate and got Posada caught in a rundown. Napoli ran Posada back to the bag while Cano coasted into third, and the Angels’ catcher ended up tagging each runner standing off the bag — first Cano, then Posada. But crew chief Tim McClelland ruled that only Posada was out.

The Angels, who haven’t scored in the first three innings during this series, got on the board in the fifth when Morales homered with one out on Sabathia’s 45th pitch. It was one of three straight hits by the Angels, but Sabathia retired Chone Figgins on a fielder’s choice grounder and Bobby Abreu on a fly after singles by Napoli and Erick Aybar.

The Angels threatened again in the sixth, but Juan Rivera grounded into a double play with runners at first and second, and Kendrick lined out to first base.

Sabathia was pitching on three days’ rest for the first time since Oct. 2, 2008, when he gave up five runs in 3 2-3 innings for Milwaukee in a 5-2 loss at Philadelphia in Game 2 of the NL division series. Last Friday at Yankee Stadium in Game 1, the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner allowed a run and four hits over eight innings — his longest outing in seven postseason starts.

Sabathia, who went 19-8 with a 3.37 ERA and 197 strikeouts during the regular season after signing a seven-year, $161 million contract with the Yankees in December, didn’t pitch with less than four days’ rest in any of his 34 starts. In 2008 with the Brewers, the 290-pound lefty pitched on three days’ rest in his last three outings before the postseason and was 2-1 with a 0.83 ERA.

Kazmir was 2-1 against the Yankees this season, both victories coming with Tampa Bay, and the loss after he was traded to the Angels on Aug. 28 for three minor leaguers. Lifetime against New York, he came in 6-5 with a 2.67 ERA in 14 starts and one relief appearance.

Kazmir got a no-decision at Boston on Oct. 11 in Game 3 of the division series. He allowed five runs over six innings before the Angels rallied with three runs in the ninth to complete the first postseason sweep in franchise history.

The series takes a day off Wednesday before Yankees Game 2 starter A.J. Burnett faces Game 1 loser John Lackey on Thursday night at Angel Stadium.

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Man City too good for Liverpool

Man City too good for Liverpool

Manchester City recovered from their shock defeat at Sunderland and opened up a three-point gap at the top of the Premier League table with a comfortable victory over Liverpool.
Roberto Mancini’s side faced a test of character and resilience with a swift turnaround to play again only 48 hours after the loss at the Stadium of Light – and they passed the examination impressively.
Liverpool were denied striker Luis Suarez’s potency as they decided not to appeal against the eight-game ban handed down after the Football Association found the Uruguayan guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.And they sorely missed Suarez’s menace as they enjoyed plenty of possession but never threatened to turn it into tangible reward.
Mancini incredulous at Man City fixtures
Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina’s error gifted Sergio Aguero an early goal and Yaya Toure rose to head home David Silva’s corner for a second before the break.
The only blot on City’s night came when Gareth Barry was sent off for a second yellow card, which means he misses Sunday’s FA Cup third round tie against Manchester United, but they sealed the win when James Milner scored from the spot after Martin Skrtel fouled Yaya Toure.

It gave City the advantage over closest rivals United before their visit to Newcastle on Wednesday and enabled them to regain momentum after a goalless draw at West Bromwich Albion and the 1-0 reverse at Sunderland.

Liverpool’s efforts lacked punch despite the vast expense lavished on their forward line by manager Kenny Dalglish and they ended well beaten.

Stewart Downing was thwarted by Joe Hart’s crucial early block from Jordan Henderson’s fine pass before Reina gifted City their opening goal.Aguero’s shot was testing in the stormy conditions but the Spaniard made the basic error of failing to get his body behind the ball and the 20-yard shot dipped underneath him to relieve City’s early nerves.

The Argentine then lifted a shot just over before Edin Dzeko’s effort took a heavy deflection off Glen Johnson and flew inches wide with the anxious Reina totally wrong-footed.

As Liverpool appeared to be getting a foothold in proceedings, the hosts struck again 12 minutes before the interval.

Reina made amends for his earlier error by turning Vincent Kompany’s header over the top, but when Silva returned the resulting corner Yaya Toure got ahead of Johnson to head high past the the visiting keeper.

Kompany made a vital intervention at the other end to ensure City protected their two-goal lead until half-time, throwing himself bravely in front of Dirk Kuyt’s shot as the Dutchman moved to turn in Andy Carroll’s header.Once more the Reds saw plenty of the ball after the restart, but their lack of threat prompted Dalglish to make a double change just before the hour mark, sending on Steven Gerrard and former Manchester City striker Craig Bellamy for the disappointing Charlie Adam and Kuyt.

They failed to make any serious inroads into the home defence, although they were given brief hope when Barry was sent off for a second yellow card, an innocuous block on Daniel Agger, with 17 minutes left.
If they did have any hopes of a revival, they were snuffed out two minutes later when referee Mike Jones – a late replacement for Andre Marriner, who refereed the match in which Suarez had his flashpoint with Evra in October – pointed to the spot after Skrtel tangled with Yaya Toure.

After Mancini had failed in demands to have Skrtel sent off by waving an imaginary red card, Milner converted the penalty emphatically.
Substitute Adam Johnson struck the post with a curling effort as City pressed again, but matters had already been settled well before.
Liverpool kept going and tested City keeper Hart with some late efforts from Gerrard and Downing, but he was more than equal to the task on a bitterly disappointing night for Dalglish’s side.

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