New York - Colin Curtis already was down two strikes when he hopped off the bench. By the time he returned, the New York Yankees were lining up to push the shy rookie out for a curtain call.
Rushed up to the plate after Brett Gardner was ejected, Curtis cracked a three-run homer Wednesday that sealed New York’s 10-6 victory over Joel Piñeiro and the Los Angeles Angels.
“It worked out perfect,” Gardner said. “Shoot, I was up there trying to get the guy in from third. He went up there and hit a three-run homer.”
After taking over, Curtis worked the count full against reliever Scot Shields and hit a line drive just over the right-field fence for his first major league homer.
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Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano supplied the early offense that ended former Mariners pitcher Piñeiro’s seven-game winning streak, and the Yankees managed a two-game split to finish 4-4 against the Angels this season after beating them in last year’s American League Championship Series.
Pitching on 10 days’ rest, Javier Vazquez (8-7) nearly squandered a six-run cushion, withering quickly in the sweltering humidity on an 88-degree afternoon that felt like hot soup. But the right-hander hung on just long enough – with major help from the bullpen – for his 150th career win, becoming the third active pitcher to beat all 30 major league teams.
The Yankees said San Francisco’s Barry Zito and Philadelphia’s Jamie Moyer are the others, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“The whole bullpen did a great job out there,” Vazquez said.
Bobby Wilson and ex-Yankee Hideki Matsui each hit a two-run homer for Los Angeles. Matsui’s drive cut it to 6-5 in the sixth, but David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain wriggled out of jams to keep New York ahead. Mariano Rivera worked a perfect ninth.
“We were just swimming upstream for most of the day,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Piñeiro (10-7) was 7-0 with a 2.51 ERA in his previous eight starts, but 10 of his first 21 batters got hits as the Yankees built a 6-0 lead. Teixeira doubled twice and drove in three runs, Cano hit a two-run homer and Derek Jeter had three hits and scored three times.
“It was tough. Everything was up. It was just one of those days when you didn’t have your best stuff,” Piñeiro said.
New York’s Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-5 with an RBI groundout, remaining at 598 home runs.