Brian Roberts' homer in ninth lifts Yankees over Angels

Hiroki Kuroda of the Yankees throws a pitch

Hiroki Kuroda of the Yankees throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 6, 2014 in Anaheim, Calif. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Stephen Dunn

advertisement | advertise on newsday

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Brian Roberts spent the spring driving home a consistent message when it came to replacing Robinson Cano.

"I'm not going to be Robbie, and I'm not going to try to be," he said multiple times.

The veteran second baseman did a pretty good impression Tuesday night.

Laying into a first-pitch fastball from righthander Ernesto Frieri, Roberts clubbed a two-out, ninth-inning homer to lift the Yankees to a 4-3 victory over the Angels in front of 40,106 at Angels Stadium.

It was Roberts' first homer as a Yankee. He has the same number of homers with his new team as Cano has as a Mariner.

Roberts, hitting .156 as recently as April 20, has hits in six of his last seven games, raising his average to .250.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"In general I feel a lot more comfortable," he said. "I probably put a little too much pressure on myself early on. I've never been on a new team and certainly never been in New York in a home uniform and that sort of stuff. So it's been nice to get something going a little bit and start to relax a little bit."

Said manager Joe Girardi, "You take away maybe the first two weeks, he's been swinging the bat well. "He's been steady. His at-bats have been good."

The Angels had rallied from a 3-2 deficit in the eighth, getting a two-out, RBI single from Albert Pujols off Shawn Kelley, who replaced a brilliant Hiroki Kuroda.

Kuroda allowed three runs -- one earned -- and five hits in 72/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked none but got a no-decision.

"Hiro's got great stuff. He has a number of pitches he can beat you with." Derek Jeter said. "He threw the ball extremely well. It's too bad he didn't get the win but he did exactly what we needed him to do."

Kuroda, cruised before Mike Trout's triple off the top of the wall in right-center with two outs in the eighth. That brought up Pujols. Rather than go to David Robertson, who had not pitched since last Friday, for a four-out save, Girardi went with Kelley. Kelley, who walked four -- one intentionally -- the previous night in a 4-1 loss, got behind Pujols 3-and-0 before the slugger laced a full-count pitch to left for the single that tied it. Neither Kelley nor Robertson had much history against Pujols, who was 1-for-5 in his career vs. Kelley and 0-for-2 vs. Robertson.

On why he chose not to go with Robertson in that spot, Girardi said, "I've been trying to stay away from using Robby for more than an inning."

After Roberts' blast to deep right, coming on a 94-mph fastball, Robertson pitched a perfect ninth for his fifth save.

The Yankees (17-15), losers of five of their last six coming in, did not have much success against Angels lefty C.J. Wilson but got a critical hit, the kind eluding them the past week, from Alfonso Soriano with one out in the eighth. His single up the middle drove in Carlos Beltran to snap a 2-2 tie.

The Angels (16-16) got on the board in the third with two unearned runs. Hank Conger led off with a single to center and Collin Cowgill dropped a bunt toward third. Yangervis Solarte charged, fielded and threw wildly to first, allowing Conger to go to third and Cowgill to second. Consecutive sacrifice flies by Erick Aybar and Trout made it 2-0.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The Yankees got something going in the fifth, getting three straight singles from Solarte, Brett Gardner and Roberts. Solarte scored on Roberts' single and Gardner dashed from first to third on the hit. Ellsbury hit into a double play, but Gardner scored, tying it at 2.

Subscribe to Newsday’s sports newsletter for stories, photos and videos about your favorite New York teams plus national sports news and events.

Comments now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

You also may be interested in: