Yanks’ Johnson Reaches 4,500 Strikeouts
NEW YORK (AP) _ Randy Johnson pitched seven strong innings and reached another milestone, and Alex Rodriguez hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly that sent the New York Yankees to a 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.
Derek Jeter hit an early two-run homer and Jorge Posada added a solo shot, helping the AL East-leading Yankees gain a four-game split against a longtime nemesis.
The Big Unit outpitched John Lackey for his 276th win and surpassed 4,500 strikeouts, becoming only the third pitcher to hit the plateau.
After taking a no-hit bid into the seventh during his previous start against the Chicago White Sox, Johnson (13-9) held the Angels scoreless for six innings.
But Chone Figgins hit an RBI single with two outs in the seventh and, running on the pitch, scored from first base on Howie Kendrick’s double that tied it at 2.
The Yankees manufactured the go-ahead run in the bottom half with two bunts and a sac fly. Johnny Damon got it going with a bloop single, and Jeter followed with a perfectly placed bunt single.
No. 3 batter Bobby Abreu squared around for his first sacrifice bunt since July 1998, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, and Jason Giambi was intentionally walked to load the bases for Rodriguez.
Booed at home much of the season for failing to come through in clutch situations, the two-time MVP lofted a 1-2 pitch deep into the right-field corner.
Vladimir Guerrero caught the ball with his back to the wall, but Damon scored easily and A-Rod received hearty congratulations in the dugout.
Posada homered on Brendan Donnelly’s first pitch in the eighth _ his third hit after beginning the night in a career-worst 0-for-25 slump.
Abreu added an RBI infield single against J.C. Romero, Giambi delivered a sacrifice fly and Rodriguez drove in another run with a bad-hop single, making it 7-2.
Kyle Farnsworth worked a perfect eighth and Mariano Rivera closed it out.
Lackey (10-9) lost his third consecutive start, allowing three runs and 11 hits in seven innings.
Johnson gave up eight hits, walked one and struck out five. He fanned Tim Salmon in the fourth for his 4,500th strikeout, becoming only the third pitcher to reach the milestone after Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Roger Clemens (4,552).
Posada tossed the ball into the dugout to be kept as a souvenir, and the crowd chanted ``Randy! Randy!″ The Big Unit went right back to work but acknowledged the fans by waving his glove after the inning.
Notes: Jeter’s bunt single drew chants of ``MVP! MVP!″ ... Giambi was thrown out at the plate by rookie CF Reggie Willits in the second after running through a stop sign from third base coach Larry Bowa. ... Johnson improved to 16-7 against the Angels. ... Lackey went 2-0 with a 2.53 ERA in two starts against the Yankees last season. ... Angels OF Garret Anderson missed his third straight start due to tightness in his lower back, but manager Mike Scioscia said he hopes to have Anderson back in some capacity Tuesday night at Texas.