LOS ANGELES -- With two outs in the eighth and a runner on second, Eric Gagne came on to face Alex Rodriguez, the potential tying run.
After working the count to 2-2, the NL Cy Young winner challenged A-Rod with a fastball down the middle, and the AL MVP swung through it.
"It was a fun at-bat. He just beat me fair and square," Rodriguez said. "That's what makes him so good." Gagne then finished for his major league-record 81st straight save, preserving Los Angeles's 5-4 victory over New York last night.Gagne gave up a homer to Jason Giambi leading off the ninth before getting his second save of the series between teams that have met 11 times in the World Series, but not since 1981. After Giambi's homer, the fourth the closer has allowed this season, Gagne retired Gary Sheffield on a ground out, Jorge Posada on a fly to left, and struck out Hideki Matsui looking to end it for his 18th save of the season. Shawn Green triggered the Dodgers' four-run second against Jose Contreras (4-3) with a homer and starter Jose Lima shrugged off consecutive home runs to Matsui and Miguel Cairo. The Yankees cut their deficit to 4-3 in the seventh on Matsui's two-out RBI triple off reliever Tom Martin. Giambi led off with a single off Lima (5-3), took second on Sheffield's single, and moved to third when Posada hit into a double play. Dave Roberts doubled and sped all the way home when Matsui misplayed the ball in left field for a two-base error, giving the Dodgers a 5-3 lead in the bottom half.
The Yankees made it 4-2 in the third with consecutive homers by Matsui, who led off with a drive to left-center, and Cairo, whose second of the season landed in the Dodgers' bullpen. Lima gave up three runs on five hits in six innings plus, struck out two, and walked none.