NEW YORK — Chris Nelson hit a solo home run to right-center field in the fourth inning and broke the game open with a grand slam to left field in the eighth Thursday, as the Angels avoided a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees with an 8-4 victory.
It was the first career grand slam and first multi-homer game for Nelson, who was designated for assignment by the Angels on June 10, accepted an assignment to triple-A and took over as the regular third baseman after Alberto Callaspo was traded to the Oakland Athletics on July 30.
C.J. Wilson (13-6) gave up 11 hits and threw a season-high 124 pitches in 6 2/3 innings, but he managed to limit a Yankees offense that scored 25 runs the previous two nights to just one run.
The Angels snapped a 1-1 tie with two runs in the fourth, Erick Aybar leading off with a double to right and taking third on a passed ball, Hank Conger hitting a sacrifice fly and Nelson hitting his first homer.
Mike Trout led off the eighth with a bloop double to center, but it appeared the rally would fizzle when Josh Hamilton struck out and Aybar popped out. Mark Trumbo was intentionally walked, and Conger laid off a close full-count pitch from left-hander Boone Logan for a walk that loaded the bases.
Nelson then drove a Logan pitch into the left-field seats for a 7-1 lead, Grant Green doubled to right, and J.B. Shuck singled to center to score Green for an 8-1 lead.
The five-run inning helped the Angels absorb a three-run ninth in which Robinson Cano hit an RBI single and Vernon Wells hit a two-run double. But reliever Dane De La Rosa got Eduardo Nunez to ground to first to end the game.
The Angels’ first run came in the first inning when Shuck singled to left, stole second and scored on Hamilton’s two-out single to center.
Shuck also made a superb defensive play in the bottom of the first, fielding Alfonso Soriano’s hit off the left-field wall and firing a one-hop throw to second to nail Soriano trying to stretch the hit to a double.
The Yankees tied the score in the third when Brett Gardner hit a one-out triple to left and came home on Soriano’s single to center. They went on to load the bases on singles by Cano and Alex Rodriguez, but Wilson got Wells, the former Angels outfielder, to ground into an inning-ending double play.
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