ANAHEIM -- In a game in which neither starting pitcher had his best stuff, the Angels fell to the Yankees, 6-5, before 42,581 in Anaheim on Sunday afternoon. More important than the performances of the starters, though, was a costly lead-changing error in the seventh inning by Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos.
The Angels got on the board in the bottom of the first inning, as Erick Aybar led off with a single and Howard Kendrick took Yankees starter Freddy Garcia deep for his 16th home run of the season, giving the Halos a 2-0 lead. But in a pattern that would last all game, the Angels quickly let New York answer.
In the top of the second, Ervin Santana gave up a leadoff single to Robinson Cano, who advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on an Eric Chavez single.
"Ervin's stuff was good," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "He pitched well; we just couldn't close it out."
Garcia, however, wasn't any better at holding the Halos off the board, as Bobby Wilson and Aybar opened the third inning with singles and moved up 90 feet on a sacrifice bunt by Kendrick. Wilson then scored on a wild pitch by Garcia to give the Angels a 3-1 lead.
That set the tone, but in the fourth, Santana served up Cano's 25th home run of the season to cut the lead to 3-2.
"Those guys," said Scioscia, "if you miss spots, they have a chance to hit the ball out of the ballpark."
More damage could have been done, as Chavez doubled with two outs and Santana walked the next two batters to load the bases before finally coaxing Brett Gardner to fly out to center and end the threat.
Bourjos increased the Angels' lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the fourth when he followed an Alberto Callaspo walk with his 11th home run.
That made it Santana's turn to return the favor, and in the top of the fifth, Derek Jeter led off with a single and came home on Curtis Granderson's 39th home run. With the long ball, Granderson increased his American League-leading RBI total to 111 and made the score 5-4.
In the bottom of the inning, the Angels loaded the bases with one out, but Mark Trumbo popped out to second and Callaspo grounded out to end the threat.
"That was huge," said Mark Teixeira. "That's a scrappy lineup, so you've got to think when they have runners on, they're going to be able to push them across somehow. For Freddy to get out of that inning was big for us."
"You have to give Garcia some credit," Scioscia said. "He pitched with his back against the wall and pitched out of some trouble.
"We had chances to score runs. We had a lot of guys on third with less than two outs, and you have to pick up those runs."
Both teams took a rest in the sixth, the first inning without any scoring, but Santana started off the seventh by surrendering leadoff singles to Gardner and Jeter before giving way to Scott Downs. After Granderson struck out, Bourjos dropped Teixeira's fly despite camping under the ball, allowing both runners to score and giving the Yankees their first lead of the day, 6-5.
"I got a good break on it," explained Bourjos, "It kind of flashed in the sun, but it's a play you have to make. I need to be in a better position when it came out of the sun."
"I thought I hit it really well," said Teixeira. "I knew at the very least it got the job done. I'm happy that we're tied, and ... I was kind of running hard the whole way, just in case. Those two runs ended up being huge."
Bourjos left no doubt about where he thought the game turned.
"We lost the game right there."
Scioscia, however, didn't see it the same way.
"I wouldn't put this game on one play," Scioscia said. "We had lots of opportunities to move the ball and score runs, and we couldn't do it."
As for the play itself, Scioscia had his own take.
"It's not an easy outfield, with the wind and the sun," Scioscia said. "That ball was flying today. He's been playing Gold Glove center field all year."
While it was nice to have his manager's support, this was a case in which Bourjos felt he had to disagree.
"It wasn't any more difficult than normal out there," Bourjos said. "That's how it always is."
From the vantage point of the mound, Santana was surprised by the play but also realized how reliable Bourjos has been all season.
"Nobody's perfect, and if you don't want to make any errors, you don't play in this sport," said a pragmatic Santana.
"He's made great plays before; what can I do?"
The Angels threatened in the bottom of the inning against Rafael Soriano, as Kendrick and Bobby Abreu both singled and Abreu stole second to put runners on second and third with two outs, but Soriano got Trumbo to ground out to Teixeira. It was Abreu's 20th stolen base of the season, marking the 13th consecutive year he has reached that mark -- the longest current streak in the Majors and the longest since Rickey Henderson did it for 23 consecutive years, the last being 2001.
From that point on, the Yankees' bullpen took over, with Dave Robertson retiring the side in the eighth and Mariano Rivera coming on in the ninth for his 40th save of the season and the 599th of his career.
With the error, the lack of timely hitting and the inability to keep the Yankees off the board, Scioscia summed the day up succinctly.
"We just didn't play good baseball," he said.
Glenn Rabney is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.