NEW YORK -- Bobby Abreu has had enough trouble scratching out a hit of any kind, period.
But a home run off Mariano Rivera at Yankee Stadium? The Angels veteran knows full well what that could do in helping him break out of a personal slump and to boost the Halos' oft-suppressed offense.
Abreu chose the most opportune of times to snap out of that hitting funk, blasting two home runs against the Yankees on Tuesday night, including the game-winner off Rivera in the top of the ninth, pushing the Angels to a 6-4 victory.
"Believe me, you never expect as a hitter that you're going to hit a homer against Mariano," said Abreu, who spent parts of three seasons in pinstripes. "First of all, it's tough to make good contact against him. To hit a homer, that's nice. It's hard to believe.
"I know anything can happen, but you have to be realistic -- he's the best closer in the game. And it's hard sometimes just to make good contact against him."
Abreu, in fact, made great contact on a 3-1 cutter that often breaks the bat of left-handed hitters.
"It was a cutter that didn't cut there enough," Rivera said. "He was able to put good wood on the ball."
It was a result that the designated hitter, who hit .179 (15-for-84) in July and had just one hit in his previous six games, has been unable to manufacture lately.
"Bobby had a great night tonight," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who was forced to watch the latter third of the ballgame from the visitors' clubhouse after being ejected in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes with home-plate umpire Chris Guccione. "I think he felt a little pressure release when he got a game like this, especially under the circumstances. [Rivera is] the best closer in the world. He hit a home run off him, and hopefully it's going to give Bobby a lift."
Abreu's blast gave the Angels' pitching staff a lift after it was unable to maintain a 4-1 lead in the seventh. With the two-run lead in the ninth, closer Jordan Walden made it through a frantic rally to lock down his 26th save of the season.
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira represented the winning run at the plate with two outs when Walden executed a third-to-first move that caught Curtis Granderson between first and second, leading to the final out of the game.
"Normally, [first baseman Mark Trumbo] will be like, 'No, no, no' and that time I didn't hear anything," Walden said. "So I was like, 'Oh crap, something's different,' and I look up, and he's halfway [to second]."
With the Angels down, 1-0, after a first-inning home run from Granderson, Abreu belted his first long ball in the top half of the sixth to even the score.
Yankees starter A.J. Burnett issued three walks to load the bases for No. 9 hitter Jeff Mathis to continue the sixth. Mathis' check-swing first strike drew the ire of Scioscia, who was tossed after apparently having words for Guccione.
Mathis then roped Burnett's next pitch over Granderson's head in center field for a two-run ground-rule double. Peter Bourjos would eventually come around to score the fourth run of the frame on a Burnett wild pitch to make it a 4-1 game.
The lead didn't last, as the Yankees mounted a two-out rally against Angels starter Dan Haren in the seventh. Haren allowed three hits in the frame before reliever Fernando Rodney surrendered a two-run single to Derek Jeter, knotting the game at 4.
With the tiebreaking homer in the ninth, Abreu notched his 16th career multihomer game and put the Angels a season-high 12 games above .500.
"All you want to do is score more runs than the opponent," Angels right fielder Torii Hunter said. "And we've been doing that lately. Today was a battle. The Yankees gave us a battle, which they always do, but we came through in the end."