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Yankees on brink of World Series as CC, A-Rod pound Angels

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Alex Rodriguez limited the celebration of his latest playoff homer to a brisk trot and a few high-fives. CC Sabathia barely even pumped a fist while mowing down the Angels for eight innings.

Even while they shined at a pivotal point in the AL Championship Series, the slugger and the workhorse starter seemed determined to stick to business.

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Although none of the Yankees' 26 World Series championships included these two stars, their no-nonsense excellence in a 10-1 victory on Tuesday night put New York one win from routing the Los Angeles Angels and playing for another title.

"We just need to close it out," Sabathia said simply. "It's that time."

Rodriguez homered in the third straight game of his outstanding postseason, Sabathia pitched five-hit ball on three days' rest, and the Yankees took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 ALCS with superstars living up to their big contracts.

Johnny Damon added a late two-run homer for the Yankees, who could sew up their first trip to the World Series in six years with a win in Game 5 on Thursday night at Angel Stadium. New York's A.J. Burnett faces Angels ace John Lackey.

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Rodriguez had three hits and scored three runs, while Melky Cabrera drove in four for the Yankees, who built a commanding cushion in this once-wild series by draining the drama from it.

One day after the Angels handed New York its first playoff loss in an extra-inning thriller, the Yankees put together two early rallies before piling on five runs late -- all backed by Sabathia's steady work in his second win of the series.

"This team's good. We have great players, Hall of Fame players," said Sabathia, who has won three of the Yankees' seven playoff games. "We've got all the confidence in the world."

With a two-run homer to left field that silenced an excited Anaheim crowd in the fifth, Rodriguez drove in a run in his eighth straight postseason game, tying the major league record. It was his fifth homer in New York's seven postseason games, matching Reggie Jackson's iconic 1977 effort for the second-most homers in a single playoff year for the Yankees.

"Well, the game slows down for you, no doubt about it," said Rodriguez, who is 6 for 16 with three homers and five RBI in the ALCS. "You feel like you want to see the ball and hit it hard and not try to do too much, but the best way I can describe it is you feel like the game is slowing down."

Bernie Williams holds the New York record with six homers in 1996, but that mark seems ripe to be toppled by A-Rod in the first phenomenal postseason for a superstar who mostly sputtered in October until now.

Rodriguez also singled and scored New York's first run in the fourth, and he doubled and scored on an error in the ninth to cap his do-it-all day.

"He did something different," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said of Rodriguez. "I think he's shorter with his swing and being patient, a lot more patient. He looks different at the plate. He definitely wants it. You can tell by the way he's swinging. That guy's a bad guy, man. I wish he was on my team."

After playing 24 innings over 9½ hours and making a coast-to-coast flight over the previous three days, both teams needed a snappy victory. Sabathia came through for the Yankees, providing rest for New York's taxed bullpen while further frustrating Los Angeles' lineup, which is foundering in the playoffs after an outstanding regular season.

Sabathia was 2-3 with a 7.92 ERA in five playoff starts with Cleveland and Milwaukee before this season, but he's been dominant this October. The Yankees' $161 million left-hander yielded two walks and struck out five in Game 4, throwing 101 pitches.

"We've still got a little ways to go, but I've been feeling good," Sabathia said. "I never had any doubt about me being able to perform on this stage and to pitch well late in October, but it seems like people did. But I feel great. You know, hopefully I can keep it going."

After he retired Hunter on a weak grounder to end the eighth, thousands of fans stood up and left Angel Stadium, not sticking around for the final demise of their suddenly punchless club.

Kendry Morales homered for the Angels, whose bats have been mostly awful in the ALCS. The club that had nine .300 hitters in its lineup in mid-August is batting .201 in the series, and the Angels managed just one extra-base hit in Game 4.

"We got beat pretty badly tonight, [but] it was one loss. That's it," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Our guys are confident. There is nobody in that clubhouse that's down. We know where we have to get to, and there's a terrific challenge for us."

Newcomer Scott Kazmir also crumbled in his second straight postseason start for the Angels, allowing six hits and four walks while barely making it through four innings.

After holding the Angels to four hits over eight innings in Game 1, Sabathia pitched on three days' rest for the first time this season, but he's no stranger to extra assignments. He pitched very well on short rest four times for Milwaukee last season while carrying the Brewers into the playoffs, though he struggled once he got there.

Sabathia also would be in position to pitch Game 7 on four days' rest if necessary -- but unless the Angels awaken, it's more likely he'll be fresh for the World Series opener next Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

New York took the series' first two games at home, including a 13-inning thriller in Game 2. Los Angeles won 5-4 in 11 innings in Game 3, overcoming a three-run deficit and blowing a late lead before Jeff Mathis' winning RBI double.

In Game 4, the Yankees finally slowed a team-wide 3-for-35 slump with runners in scoring position with Cabrera's fourth-inning single, which highlighted a three-run burst that began with Rodriguez's slide home under a tag.

Cabrera later added a two-run double in the ninth -- but Sabathia already had everything he needed even before Rodriguez homered on reliever Jason Bulger's second pitch in the fifth.

Kazmir yielded six hits and four walks while working incredibly slowly. He kept New York scoreless until the fourth, when Rodriguez led off with a single. After Jorge Posada laced a double just inside the left-field line, Robinson Cano grounded to second with one out, but Rodriguez slid in underneath Howie Kendrick's high throw to the plate.

Notes

  • The Yankees already announced plans earlier in the day to put some World Series tickets on sale online Wednesday.
  • Kazmir appeared to pick Swisher off second base moments after Cabrera's RBI single, but umpire Dale Scott ruled him safe.
  • Morales was 3 for 24 in the postseason until his drive to center in the fifth.
 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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On fire: Alex Rodriguez is 6 for 16 with three homers and five RBI this series.  (AP)
On fire: Alex Rodriguez is 6 for 16 with three homers and five RBI this series. (AP)

Players of the Game
New York

M. Cabrera
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 4
New York

C. Sabathia
IP 8.0
H 5
ER 1
BB 2
K 5
 

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New York Yankees
Derek Jeter, SS5020102 .323
Johnny Damon, LF5112004 .212
Mark Teixeira, 1B5110022 .133
Alex Rodriguez, 3B4332111 .407
Jorge Posada, C3110210 .333
Hideki Matsui, DH5000034 .261
Robinson Cano, 2B4211112 .207
Nick Swisher, RF2000102 .125
    Brett Gardner, PR-CF1110000 .667
Melky Cabrera, CF-RF4134102 .276
Totals381013978  
Batting
2B - Alex Rodriguez (1, Palmer), Jorge Posada (1, Kazmir), Robinson Cano (1, Oliver), Melky Cabrera (1, Palmer)
HR - Johnny Damon (2, Palmer), Alex Rodriguez (5, Bulger)
RBI - Johnny Damon 2 (3), Alex Rodriguez 2 (11), Robinson Cano (3), Melky Cabrera 4 (4)
2-OUT RBI - Johnny Damon 2 (2), Melky Cabrera 2 (2)
SB - Alex Rodriguez (1, 2nd base off Kazmir/Napoli), Jorge Posada (1, 2nd base off Oliver/Napoli)
CS - Derek Jeter (1, 2nd base by Kazmir/Napoli), Brett Gardner (2, 2nd base by Santana/Napoli)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Jeter-Teixeira
New York Yankees
CC Sabathia (W,3-0) 8511251 1.19
Chad Gaudin 1000000 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - CC Sabathia 101-69, Chad Gaudin 13-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - CC Sabathia 13-5, Chad Gaudin 1-2
Batters Faced - CC Sabathia 30, Chad Gaudin 3
Los Angeles Angels
Chone Figgins, 3B4000001 .071
Bobby Abreu, RF3000122 .280
Torii Hunter, CF3000111 .222
Vladimir Guerrero, DH4010001 .310
Juan Rivera, LF4010001 .179
Howie Kendrick, 2B3000001 .313
   a- Gary Matthews Jr., PH1000000 .000
Kendry Morales, 1B3111011 .154
Mike Napoli, C3010011 .154
Erick Aybar, SS3010000 .320
Totals3115125  
a-grounded out for Kendrick in the 9th
Batting
HR - Kendry Morales (2, Sabathia)
RBI - Kendry Morales (5)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Torii Hunter 1
DP - Hunter-Morales-Figgins
E - Bobby Abreu (1, Throwing)
Los Angeles Angels
Scott Kazmir (L,0-1) 4644430 8.10
Jason Bulger0111101 2.70
Darren Oliver 1100010 0.00
Ervin Santana 2.1111130 1.93
Matt Palmer 1.2444111 13.50
HBP - Swisher (by Ervin Santana)
WP - Scott Kazmir (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Kazmir 89-49, Jason Bulger 7-3, Darren Oliver 11-8, Ervin Santana 36-23, Matt Palmer 27-16
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Kazmir 3-5, Darren Oliver 2-0, Ervin Santana 3-0, Matt Palmer 2-2
Batters Faced - Scott Kazmir 21, Jason Bulger 2, Darren Oliver 4, Ervin Santana 9, Matt Palmer 10
Game Information
Attendance - 45160
Game Time - 3:38
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Jerry Layne, First Base - Field Culbreth, Second Base - Dale Scott, Third Base - Tim McClelland