for this game

Hunter helps Angels edge Yankees

Aug 2, 2008 - 4:03 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BRONX, New York (Ticker) -- Torii Hunter has had an emotional week and the best release has been getting big hits for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Hunter came through again, delivering a RBI single off Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning as the Angels pulled out a 1-0 victory over the New York Yankees on Friday.

Hunter led the Angels to their fifth straight win, 12th in 14 games since the All-Star break and 20th in 26 since June 30. The Angels are 7-1 on their 10-game road trip through Baltimore, Boston and New York. Hunter has played a significant role.

He has been extremely hot since returning from a two-day stint on the bereavement list to be with his grandmother, Edna Cobbs, who died a week ago Friday. He is hitting .375 (12-for-32) with five home runs and 15 RBI on this trip and the hit off Rivera was the latest highlight.

"I got a chance to see my grandmother last week and when I came back Friday she passed," Hunter said. "But I was able to talk to her, communicate with her. I felt pretty good and came back and had a pretty good week."

"Torri's been playing with a lot of emotion," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "This week has been hard on him. He's kept his focus and played baseball. It's been a good release for him."

The hit also provided a nice send-off for Hunter, who will miss the final two games of the series to attend the funeral of his grandmother in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Hunter and the Angels did not have many opportunites to score as they had jtwo hits and six baserunners in the first eight innings off Sidney Ponson and Damaso Marte.

They finally got a big chance in the ninth off Rivera, who has often struggled in non-save situations.

Mark Teixeira led off with a walk. Vladimir Guerrerro followed with a line single to right field that advanced pinch runner Reggie Willits to third.

That set the stage for Hunter, who had been 1-for-6 with five strikeouts against Rivera.

"It's hard," Hunter said. "I haven't had much success off him in the past when I was in Minnesota. The guy's still nasty. He's throwing the cutter in on righties and you don't know if it's a ball or a strike. I just wanted to get jammed and make contact. Anything can happen with a man on third and less than two outs."

Rivera has not blown a save in 26 opportunities, but has given up a run in his last three non-save appearances.

"I wish I can explain or someone can explain that to me," Rivera said.

Hunter and the Angels had the chance in the ninth because of an outstanding effort from starter Ervin Santana. After allowing nine runs and 14 hits over his previous two outings, Santana held the Yankees to four hits over eight innings and effectively worked out of trouble in the first and the sixth.

"Everything was working the way I wanted it," said Santana, who is 9-2 on the road.

"Both sides were dealing," Hunter said. "The pitching duel was sick."

The hit allowed the Angels to turn things over to closer Francisco Rodriguez, who needed 13 pitches to notch his major league-leading 45th save in 48 opportunities.

Ponson, who came off an awful start in Boston on Sunday, allowed two hits and four walks while throwing half of his 96 pitches for strikes. The only hits he allowed were leadoff singles to Teixeira and Garret Anderson in the fifth and sixth.

"We didn't win today," Ponson said. "It's really a bitter pill to swallow."

The Yankees lost for the fifth time in six games following a season-high eight-game winning streak. They were also blanked for the seventh time, one shy of their total from last year.

"Tonight we didn't hit," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Our pitching was excellent. To win games you've got to put everything together."

Besides the pitching duel between Ponson and Santana, the contest featured some outstanding defensive plays.

First baseman Wilson Betemit lept and snared Macier Izturis' liner to open the third. Right fielder Bobby Abreu crashed into the wall to make two leaping catches and center fielder Melky Cabrera smacked into the wall to rob Anderson of a leadoff hit in the seventh.

Izturis also got involved in the defense in the seventh when dove to stop Robinson Cano's liner and made a throw to first from his knees.