As the ball sailed toward deep center field, Bernie Williams broke into his home-run trot as Jim Edmonds broke into a sprint.
Williams snapped an 0-for-12 slump with an RBI double with one out in the 11th inning Thursday night as the New York Yankees matched their 1997 win total by beating Anaheim 6-5.
With Derek Jeter on second, Williams drove a 1-0 pitch from Mike Fetters (2-8) to the deepest part of Yankee Stadium with Edmonds in hot pursuit. Edmonds, known for his remarkable circus catches, couldn't run down the blast before crashing into the wall and rolling on the warning track as Jeter came home.
"I thought I crushed it," Williams said. "But I guess after midnight the ball doesn't carry here."
The Yankees, mired in a mini-slump the past 10 games (4-6), improved to 96-36 with 30 games remaining. They went 96-66 last season before losing to Cleveland in the first round of the AL playoffs.
Anaheim, a possible postseason opponent for New York this year, won three of five games this week at Yankee Stadium to win the season series 6-5. The Angels are the only team with a winning record in '98 against the Yankees.
"It was a little reminder that other teams can come in here and bust us up, too," Paul O'Neill said. "It was a little bit of a wakeup call."
The Angels, who lead Texas by 21/2 games in the AL West, showed they can play with the Yankes in August. They're hoping for a return engagement.
"I don't think I've
been involved in a tougher four days," Anaheim manager Terry Collins said. "It was grueling. They had a runner on every inning, every at-bat was long. We absolutely maxed out. This was the longest four days I've ever spent."
Bernie Williams, center, is greeted by teammates Chuck Knoblauch, left, and Jorge Posada after his game-winning double. (AP)
A promising pitching matchup between Chuck Finley and David Cone disintegrated into a seemingly endless parade of relievers as both Collins and New York's Joe Torre went deep and deeper into their bullpens.
Jay Tessmer, who began the season in Double-A and only joined the Yankees on Wednesday, pitched a perfect 11th and became the second Yankees pitcher in six days to win in his major league debut.
"It was amazing," Tessmer said. "I just wanted to come in and be aggressive."
Chuck Knoblauch's sacrifice fly in the eighth had given the Yankees a 5-4 lead, but the Angels tied it in the ninth on Orlando Palmeiro's one-out RBI single off Ramiro Mendoza.
Trailing 4-3, New York tied it on O'Neill's pinch sacrifice fly in the seventh and took the lead in the eighth on Knoblauch's flyout. The Yankees then blew a lead for the fifth straight game of the series.
Chili Davis hit his first homer for the Yankees, a two-run shot off Finley in the fourth.
Cone failed in his attempt to become the majors' first 19-game winner. He only allowed four runs and three hits in 5 1-3 innings but was done in by four walks, including three straight in the sixth when the Angels scored three runs to take a 4-3 lead.
"I wanted to make a statement tonight," Cone said. "And in the first five innings I thought I was right on target. But I kind of pressed a little and got out of sync."
Finley also was all over the place, giving up three runs, seven hits and five walks in five-plus innings. Finley, 15-8 against the Yankees, entered having allowed New York just one run in 15 innings this season.
Given a 3-1 lead when the Yankees scored a run in the fifth, Cone suddenly lost his control in the sixth. He walked the bases loaded before Tim Salmon's sacrifice fly brought the Angels within a run.
Edmonds followed with a two-run double, putting the Angels up 4-3 and putting Cone on the bench.
Randy Velarde's two-out RBI single gave the Angels a 1-0 lead in the third.
Davis, playing in just his 13th game this season after ankle surgery in April, followed Finley's two-out walk to Williams in the fourth with his first homer since last Sept. 17.
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