Friday, September 12, 2008

Angels victory secures AL West title

LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Angels clinched the American League West division with a 4-2 victory over the visiting New York Yankees on Wednesday.

The Major League-leading Angels became the first team in baseball to secure a post-season berth by winning their division for the fourth time in five years.

"It hasn't been easy, by any means," manager Mike Scioscia told reporters. "This team has pulled together and done the job all year long."

Third baseman Robb Quinlan delivered a two-run single during the team's three-run fifth inning to lead the way.

"I've had at-bats in the playoffs and that might have been bigger," said Quinlan of his game-changing hit. "For a regular-season game, that was pretty special."

Starting pitcher Dustin Moseley got the win over opposing pitcher Andy Pettitte in five innings of work, striking out six and allowing two runs.

Francisco Rodriguez recorded his league-leading 56th save of the season, one shy of the all-time record set by Bobby Thigpen in 1990.

The Yankees have lost three of their last four as their playoff hopes continue to fade. They managed only four hits led by Xavier Nady's 2-for-4 performance.

The Angels were without center fielder Torii Hunter, who began serving his two-game suspension along with Yankees catcher Ivan Rodriguez for their physical confrontation during Monday's contest.

In Boston, the Tampa Bay Rays gave themselves some breathing space at the top of the American League East on Wednesday with a 4-2 win over the Boston Red Sox.

After a marathon five-hour encounter at Boston's Fenway Park that stretched into the early hours of Thursday, the Rays padded their lead to 2-1/2 games over the second-place Red Sox .

With the score tied at 1-1 from the third inning, first baseman Carlos Pena hit a three-run homer over the famed Green Monster left-field wall at the top of the 14th inning to put the Rays ahead 4-1.

"I was just trying to make it as simple as possible. You can't start thinking too hard," said Pena, who came to the plate three times during the five extra innings. "I got a pitch that I thought I could handle."

The Red Sox answered with a sacrifice fly from first baseman Kevin Youkilis that drove in center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, but they failed to close the gap any further.

"We gave up the multiple runs, and that made it tougher," said Red Sox Manager Terry Francona. "Unfortunately for us they pushed three."

The Rays had ample opportunities to take the lead earlier in the game. They twice loaded the bases, in the fifth and eighth innings, each time leave the runners stranded.

Each team dipped deep into their bullpens during the game, with 14 pitchers taking the mound by the game's end.

Tampa's left-hander Trever Miller was credited with the win, while Mike Timlin took the loss.

Jason Hammel earned the save by closing out the game for Tampa Bay, calling the moment the best of his career.

"I just wanted to go in there and attack. That's my mindset," Hammel said. "I've been in other games where I'm the last reliever left. It's do-or-die with me."

Source: China Daily/Agencies

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