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Yankees survive Robertson's high-wire act, beat Angels
NEW YORK -- Even as he conducted his postgame interview at his locker adjacent to Mariano Rivera, David Robertson still was sweating.
That's because Robertson made the Yankees sweat as he filled in for Rivera.
Eventually Robertson got the save by getting two strikeouts with the bases loaded and the New York Yankees held on for a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night at Yankee Stadium.
"It turned into a really sticky situation and I didn't really help myself out much," Robertson said after getting his sixth save of his career.
Rivera had the night off. The Yankees were giving the future Hall of Fame reliever a night off to recharge after blowing three straight save opportunities for the first time in his career.
That meant Robertson would get the call. After left-handed Boone Logan began the ninth by facing two left-handed hitters at the top of the Angels' lineup, Robertson was summoned to face the heart of the order.
Robertson, who is likely to be the Yankee closer next season after Rivera retires, started out by walking Mike Trout on a close full count fastball, putting runners at first and second.
Robertson then gave up an RBI double to Josh Hamilton that just went over third baseman Alex Rodriguez's head left field, scoring J.B. Shuck. After an intentional walk to Erick Aybar a fourth straight New York blown save seemed like a possibility.
"I was trying to make a good pitch," Robertson said. "They had a runner on first. I was hoping to get a ground ball double-play ball. I ended up walking Trout and after that Hamilton got the hit over Alex's head at third and I was like 'good god'.
"That's a tough spot mentally and it just got even worse. I just had to dig deep and find a way to get out of it."
Robertson recorded the second out quickly by striking out Mark Trumbo on three straight fastballs. He reached a full count on Chris Nelson but finished off his sixth career save with a swinging strikeout.
"I just tried to throw strikes," Robertson said. "Even through the 3-2 pitch wasn't a strike, I think it was close enough to the zone that he had to swing."
"It was time for Robbie to close, which he did good, too," Rivera added.
The Angels were not surprised that Rivera got the night off.
"We knew he had pitched a lot," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "You definitely manage the game assuming he's going to be available, but it didn't surprise us when we saw some other guys."
Robertson's high-wire act secured consecutive New York victories for the first time since opening July with a six-game winning streak. It also came on a night when the Yankees received an outstanding showing from Hiroki Kuroda, who allowed three hits in eight scoreless innings.
"Hiroki's been amazing lately," Robertson said. "Every time he takes the ball, it seems like he gives you seven or eight innings. He's exceptional out there. Everything he threw was baffling the hitter. He seems to be doing that the last couple of weeks, shoot the season."
Kuroda (11-7) allowed a leadoff double to Josh Hamilton in the second and an infield hit to Mike Trout to open the seventh.
The Angels' other hit was a two-out double by Chris Iannetta in the eighth. Despite falling behind 3-1, Kuroda retired pinch hitter Hank Conger on a pop-out to shortstop Eduardo Nunez in shallow left field to end the Angels' threat.
Kuroda won for the fourth time in his last eight starts since July 7. He struck out seven, walked one and threw 70 of 107 pitches for strikes.
"Our bullpen guys have been great all season, but they have been working a lot," Kuroda said through an interpreter. "So I thought as a starting pitcher it was my responsibility to make sure I go deep."
Brett Gardner, who had the game-winning hits in both wins over Detroit, had an RBI single in the third. Curtis Granderson's solo home run in the seventh was the difference.
Playing in his sixth game of the season, Rodriguez singled in his first at-bat. He also was caught stealing and grounded into two double plays.
Angels' starter Garrett Richards (3-5) went the distance for the first time, allowing two runs and seven hits.
NOTES: Before getting Monday off, Rivera said that the primary cause of his three straight blown saves was due to an inconsistent release point. ... The Yankees said that SS Derek Jeter (calf) began doing some tee and toss work in addition to his throwing. Jeter is expected to head to the team's minor league facility in Tampa Bay this week. ... Angels OF Peter Bourjos could return Tuesday from a fractured right wrist. Bourjos has been on the DL since June 29. ... LHP Jason Vargas will be activated by the Angels and start Tuesday. He has not started since June 17 after undergoing surgery on a blood clot in his left armpit area. The Angels said they will option RHP Tommy Hanson to Triple-A Salt Lake City on Tuesday.