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10/20/09 12:25 AM ET

Halos' hurlers run gamut in gutsy Game 3

Pitchers keep Yanks close for offense's late surge

ANAHEIM -- First came the big bashes, then came the big outs.

It was a yin-and-yang kind of Monday for the Angels' pitching staff in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees.

If "yin" was Jered Weaver serving up a season-high three home runs and Kevin Jepsen blowing a one-run lead in the eighth, "yang" was Jepsen recovering from the solo shot he allowed and the rest of the bullpen shutting down the vaunted Yankees lineup.

The former wasn't pretty, but the latter allowed the Halos to hang on late and get a pivotal 5-4 win to avoid a 3-0 deficit in the best-of-seven set.

"We gave up a run late," said closer Brian Fuentes, who worked a scoreless ninth, "but we persevered and battled it out."

Weaver had to battle his way through a disappointing five innings of work in which he gave up three runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts. He was licked by the long ball, as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Johnny Damon all took him deep. Jeter's blast came on the third pitch of the game.

"Coming out of the game, I wasn't very happy with how it went," Weaver said. "Anytime you give up three home runs in a game, you're not going to be happy. Luckily, they were solo shots. But it was a grind today. I didn't have any fastball command. And when you fall behind hitters in their lineup, they're going to put some wood on it."

Darren Oliver relieved Weaver and worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings, and Jepsen got the last out of the seventh to preserve a 3-3 tie. The Angels got a run in the bottom of the seventh to put Jepsen in line for the win.

Jepsen, though, had a rough time in the eighth. He walked the leadoff man, Hideki Matsui, but was helped out when catcher Jeff Mathis threw out pinch-runner Brett Gardner on a stolen-base attempt. Rather than build off the momentum of that caught stealing, Jepsen gave up a game-tying shot to Jorge Posada. With that, the Angels tied a club record with four homers allowed -- a record set in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series against the Giants.

When Jepsen followed up Posada's homer by giving up a single to Robinson Cano and a walk to Nick Swisher, he was in real danger of letting momentum turn permanently in the Yanks' direction.

Sweet relief
Throughout the postseason, the Angels bullpen has been terrific, allowing just three earned runs in 20 innings.
ALDS, Gm 1 vs. BOS 1.2 0 0/0 0 1 0.00
ALDS, Gm 2 vs. BOS 1.2 2 0/0 1 0 0.00
ALDS, Gm 3 vs. BOS 3 2 1/1 1 2 3.00
ALCS, Gm 1 vs. NYY 2.1 1 0/0 2 3 0.00
ALCS, Gm 2 vs. NYY 5.1 7 2/1 3 2 1.76
ALCS, Gm 3 vs. NYY 6 3 1/1 4 9 1.50
TOTALS 20 15 4/3 11 17 1.35
Games in bold are Angels wins.

"I just thought to myself, 'It's OK,'" Jepsen said. "'Just relax. It's a tight ballgame. Just get out of this, and we're going to come back and win.'"

Jepsen recovered to strike out Melky Cabrera and get Jeter to ground out to end the inning.

That was the turning point for the Angels' pitching staff, because the Yanks only had one baserunner in the game's final three innings. The lone runner came in the ninth, when Fuentes intentionally walked Alex Rodriguez with two out. It was a bold move to put the lead runner on in that situation, but it turned out to be the right move, as Fuentes, who had given up the game-tying homer to A-Rod in Game 2, struck out pinch-hitter Jerry Hairston Jr. to end the inning.

"It was the sensible thing to do," Fuentes said. "It was the way to go. Not like the other night, where [A-Rod] was the leadoff guy. With two outs, we'll take our chances."

Fuentes gave way to Jason Bulger, who worked a perfect 10th. And Ervin Santana, thrust into a relief role for the postseason, followed suit with a perfect 11th.

The Angels put the winning run together in the bottom of the inning, and an Angels bullpen that some had labeled the potential Achilles' heel in this series had come through big-time.

"I feel like our guys back there, with Bulger and Tito [Fuentes] and Santana, we had guys who could come through," Jepsen said. "And they did. And it was just a matter of time before we scored again."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.