NEW YORK -- The Angels finally got a win at Yankee Stadium, but it wasn't easy. It hardly ever is around these parts.
"We kind of loaded the gun for them," manager Mike Scioscia said, "and they almost pulled the trigger."
The Angels had used the long ball (four homers) and the small ball (most notably a suicide squeeze) in a 15-hit barrage that allowed them to go into the ninth with a five-run lead and the previously unflappable Ernesto Frieri on the mound.
Nine batters, three pitchers and three runs later, the Yankees had the bases loaded, two outs and the winning run on first base. But Kevin Jepsen induced Alex Rodriguez into a popout to Albert Pujols in shallow right, salvaging a 10-8 victory that allowed the Halos to take one of three in the Bronx.
The Angels (49-40), who came into Sunday with just five wins in their last 22 contests at Yankee Stadium, begin the second half with 20 of their first 23 games against above-.500 teams and will now play a Tigers club that recently had a six-game winning streak snapped.
They'll take the win Sunday.
"It's huge," Angels slugger Mark Trumbo said. "We had another game almost get away from us, but I think we battled pretty good this series. This is a tough place to come in here and play, and we're going to take this game, this victory, and move toward the next series."
Sunday's game -- or, more accurately, this whole weekend series -- looked a lot like the State Farm Home Run Derby Trumbo took part in earlier this week. On Friday and Saturday, the two teams combined for six homers. On Sunday alone, there were eight.
Three of them came off Jered Weaver, who had given up only one run in 27 2/3 innings since coming off the disabled list, then surrendered five runs on a season-high-tying 10 hits in seven innings against the first-place Yankees (54-34).
Weaver had given up just five homers in 96 2/3 innings this season -- then he served them up to Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Eric Chavez.
"These guys are too good, too patient, and you never get a break down the lineup, really," Weaver said of a Yankees team that easily leads the Majors with 142 homers. "Just try to keep your team in it, and for the most part, I was able to do it."
The offense did, actually.
Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis each went deep, representing the first time that the two light-hitting infielders have homered in the same game. Pujols homered, going back-to-back with Aybar for his 15th of the year. And, of course, Trumbo hit one out, launching a solo shot in the ninth inning that gave him a team-leading 24 on the year and the Angels a 10-5 lead they were almost certain would hold up.
They should've known better.
Frieri came in having hurled 26 1/3 scoreless innings since joining the Angels, going 11-for-11 in save opportunities and striking out 45 in the process. But he walked Robinson Cano, gave up a two-run homer to Mark Teixeira, then walked Nick Swisher before coming out of the game after a first-pitch ball to Raul Ibanez.
"I always tell myself and say, 'God, please, whenever I give up a run, don't let that run cost us the game,'" Frieri said, "and that was exactly what happened."
It almost didn't, though.
Next came Scott Downs, two days removed from a rare blown save that saw him give up four runs in Friday's eighth inning. After giving up a sharp single to Ibanez, the left-hander struck out Andruw Jones and got Russell Martin to ground into a forceout at second. But then Downs walked Derek Jeter and Granderson to make it a two-run game.
Scioscia was forced to make another move.
"Well, you know, Downsie had already faced him once, and I think A-Rod sees the ball pretty good off Downsie," Scioscia said, probably in reference to the fact Rodriguez has a 1.030 OPS in 20 career at-bats against Downs. "Scott's going on close to 20 pitches at that point. I just wanted to get a power arm in there to get one look and get a mishit."
Jepsen got that mishit -- even though his 2-2 pitch to Rodriguez wasn't really where he wanted it.
Catcher Bobby Wilson set up outside, but Jepsen's 98-mph fastball crept back in towards the heart of the plate. Still, A-Rod's swing was late, causing a popup that landed snuggly in the glove of Pujols for the final out of a wild game and a wacky weekend series.
"That's obviously one of the best hitters in the game up there, bases loaded," Jepsen said after recording his second-career save, and first since 2009. "You don't have the luxury of pitching around him. You have to go right after him."
"It's an awesome situation; it's exactly what you want," Rodriguez said. "Jeter and Curtis and all the guys before that did an awesome job to keep the inning going, the rally going. I put a good swing on it, and just popped it up."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.