LOS ANGELES—Alex Rodriguez has done something remarkable in every game of his charmed October. CC Sabathia is settling for every time he takes the mound.
Together, they've got the New York Yankees within one game of a return to the World Series.
Rodriguez had three hits and scored three runs, while Melky Cabrera drove in four runs for the Yankees, who have built a commanding cushion in this wild series with power and pitching.
One day after the Angels handed New York its first playoff loss in an extra-inning thriller, the Yankees calmly asserted control with two early rallies before piling on five runs late.
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.
With a two-run homer over the left-field fence 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.
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.
After playing 24 innings over 9 1/2 hours and making a coast-to-coast flight over the previous three days, both teams needed a no-nonsense victory. Sabathia came through for the Yankees in his second win of the series, 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.
The Yankees' $161 million left-hander yielded two walks and struck out five, throwing 101 pitches. After he retired Torii 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.
-- The play-by-play from Mike Penner with FOX40.com affiliate The Los Angeles Times: --
FINAL SCORE: Yankees 10, Angels 1
Yankees find a way to eliminate controversy and second-guessing of Joe Girardi's strategic moves: hammer Angels pitching for 13 hits and 10 runs. Now the Angels find themselves in the same leaky boat as the Dodgers: down in the LCS, three games to one. Dreams of a Freeway Series might not make it out of Game 5.
BOTTOM OF THE NINTH INNING (Yankees 10, Angels 1)
Chad Gaudin now pitching for the Yankees. Television camera scans the Angels dugout. Gloom City. Guerrero flies to right. Rivera flies to center. Gary Matthews, batting for Kendrick, grounds to second.
TOP OF THE NINTH INNING (Yankees 10, Angels 1)
Rodriguez doubles to left-center. In five plate appearances, Rodriguez has homered, singled, doubled and walked. He now has five home runs and 11 RBI this postseason. Has he done enough to quiet his Can't-Do-It-In-October critics? Posada flies to right. Rodriguez tags, reaches third, and when Abreu's wild throw skitters past Figgins, Rodriguez scores. Matsui, the only Yankee not to reach base tonight, makes it 0-for-5 with his third strikeout. Cano walks. Gardner singles to center, Cano stopping at second. Cabrera doubles into the right-field corner, Cano and Gardner scoring. Jeter grounds to third.
BOTTOM OF THE EIGHTH INNING (Yankees 7, Angels 1)