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YANKEES 7, ANGELS 2

Johnson, A-Rod give Yankees a lift

NEW YORK -- With the New York Yankees grinding their way through a tight pennant race, Randy Johnson is much more concerned about big wins than personal milestones.

Johnson pitched seven strong innings and surpassed 4,500 strikeouts, and Alex Rodriguez hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly that sent New York to a 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels last night.

Derek Jeter hit an early two-run homer and Jorge Posada added a solo shot, helping the Yankees gain a four-game split against a longtime nemesis and extend their AL East lead to two games over the Red Sox.

``I've never allowed myself to get too caught up in the accomplishments. Maybe I will when I'm done," Johnson said. ``It means I've been around a long time and I've struck out a lot of batters. That's probably why my arm's pretty tired."

The Big Unit (13-9) outpitched John Lackey for his 276th win and became only the third major leaguer to reach 4,500 strikeouts, joining Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Roger Clemens (4,552).

``I thought his slider was outstanding," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. ``He looks like he's got a little spring in his step. We just want to hold onto it as long as possible."

After getting shut out by Johnson for six innings, Chone Figgins hit an RBI single with two outs in the seventh and, running on the pitch, scored from first base on Howie Kendrick's double that tied it at 2.

``We got a good rally off a tough pitcher. We just couldn't get the lead," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``If we'd gotten our offense going a little earlier, we might have given John a little more room to work with."

The Yankees pushed across the go-ahead run in the bottom half with two bunts and a sacrifice fly.

Johnny Damon got it going with a bloop single, Jeter followed with a perfectly placed bunt single, and No. 3 batter Bobby Abreu sacrificed to advance the runners.

Jason Giambi was intentionally walked to load the bases for Rodriguez. Booed at home much of the season for failing to come through in clutch situations, the two-time MVP lofted a 1-2 pitch deep into the right-field corner to bring in Damon.

Posada homered on Brendan Donnelly's first pitch in the eighth -- his third hit after beginning the night in a career-worst 0-for-25 slump.

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