NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — That ol’ fake-to-third, throw-to-first pickoff play that never, ever works? Trying telling that to the Los Angeles Angels.
Rookie closer Jordan Walden pulled the much-maligned trick and trapped Curtis Granderson for the final out, and the Angels rode Bobby Abreu’s two-run homer in the ninth inning off Mariano Rivera to beat the New York Yankees 6-4 Tuesday night.
“I haven’t seen anyone do it since Little League,” Angels veteran Torii Hunter said. “Nope. But I’m standing out there in right field and whoa!”‘
Abreu connected with two outs for his second home run of the game. The Yankees then began to rally in the bottom half, putting runners at the corners with Mark Teixeira up.
Walden bluffed toward third a couple times. The only thing that did was draw boos from the crowd.
Walden decided to try it once more. He stepped to third as if to make a throw, whirled toward first and — surprise! — Granderson was trying to steal second and caught in no-man’s-land.
For Walden, it was easy pickin’s.
“He’s halfway and I’m like, ‘What?”‘ Walden said. “You practice it in spring training. That’s why.”
Walden threw to shortstop Erick Aybar, who chased Granderson. Aybar tossed to first baseman Mark Trumbo, who made the tag.
“I was trying to get to second base. The odds are you never really see too many teams do that too many times in an inning,” Granderson said. “So the odds are he’s probably not going to do it again. There’s two strikes and I don’t have too many options to get to second base.”
The Angels, the only American League team with a winning record against the Yankees over the last decade, saddled New York with its first three-game losing streak since early June.
Abreu’s drive deep into the right-field seats was only the second homer allowed this season by Rivera (1-2). The Yankees closer faltered for the second straight appearance — he blew a ninth-inning lead Sunday night in Boston.
“I don’t worry about that. That’s going to happen,” Rivera said. “Unfortunately, it happened tonight.”
Abreu connected for his first multihomer game this season and 16th of his career. Once a star for the Yankees, Abreu sat in a golf cart outside the Angels’ clubhouse and chatted with some of his former teammates before the game while rain washed away batting practice.
“It’s unbelievable,” Abreu said. “You never expect as a hitter you’re going to hit a homer against Mariano.”
Pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo opened the ninth with a single. Aybar bunted into a forceout, leaving him in an 0-for-24 slump, and stole second base. After Howie Kendrick grounded out, Abreu hit his sixth home run of the season.
Walden worked the ninth for his 26th save in 33 chances. Scott Downs (6-2) got Russell Martin to ground out with two runners on to end the eighth.
The Angels moved a season-high 12 games over .500. They have the AL’s best record since mid-June.
Derek Jeter lined a two-out, two-run single over Fernando Rodney’s head that made it 4-all in the seventh, and smiled wide as the Angels made a pitching change. That tying hit came right after Brett Gardner finished starter Dan Haren with an RBI single and stole his 22nd straight base.
The Angels scored four times off A.J. Burnett in the sixth for a 4-1 lead. Abreu led off with a low liner for a home run — right fielder Nick Swisher actually broke in a few steps — and three walks loaded the bases with two outs.
Jeff Mathis stepped up batting .180 and took a half-swing at Burnett’s first pitch. Plate umpire Chris Guccione ruled it a strike and quickly ejected Angels manager Mike Scioscia for arguing. Scioscia came out to have his say, returned to the dugout and Mathis hit the next pitch on one hop over the center-field wall for a two-run double.
Burnett followed by throwing a wild pitch that let another run score, and was booed when the inning ended.
Granderson hit his 29th homer, giving New York a 1-0 lead in the first.
NOTES: Angels RHP Garrett Richards is set to make his major league debut Wednesday night against the Yankees. Richards was 12-2 with 3.06 ERA at Double-A Arkansas. The 23-year-old was drafted by the Angels in the first round in 2009. Richards will fill in while RHP Jered Weaver serves a six-game suspension. LHP Horacio Ramirez was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room for Richards. Rookie Ivan Nova (10-4) will start for New York. He struck out a career-high 10 in his last start vs. the White Sox. … DH Jorge Posada was still on the bench for the Yankees. “I’m not happy,” he said. “I really can’t control not being in the lineup.” …Yankees RHP Phil Hughes will pitch Saturday vs. Tampa Bay. He was supposed to start this game, but got moved back after pitching in relief Sunday night at Boston.
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