Catcher Jeff Mathis struck "the biggest hit of his life" as the Los Angeles Angels came from 3-0 down to beat New York Yankees 5-4 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
|Hit of a lifetime: Mathis gives the Angels hope in the best-of-seven series [GALLO/GETTY]
Mathis' winner gave the Angels their first victory of the American League Championship series as they go into their next home match 2-1 down.
"It was huge," Mathis, who hit a lowly .211 this season, said about his walk-off hit that ignited a mass celebration on the diamond on Monday night.
"It was big for us to take a 'W', taking it to 2-1 instead of 3-0.
"Obviously it's the biggest hit of my life."
His long double off the left-centre wall allowed Howie Kendrick to score from first base for the winning run.
Kendrick had stroked a two-out single off Alfredo Aceves, the eighth pitcher used by New York, who was summoned by Yankees manager Joe Girardi after David Robertson had retired the first two batters of the inning.
The Yankees had built a 3-0 lead on solo homers by Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Johnny Damon off Angels starter Jered Weaver before Los Angeles charged back with a homer by Kendrick in the fifth and a two-run blast by Vladimir Guerrero in the sixth that tied it.
Los Angeles took the lead in the seventh when Kendrick tripled off Joba Chamberlain in relief of Andy Pettitte and was brought home by Maicer Izturis's sacrifice fly, before Jorge Posada tied it again with a homer in the eighth.
"As far as taking off Robertson, we liked the match-up with Ace better. And it didn't work"
Yankees coach Joe Girardi
The Angels, plagued by errors in the first two games in chilly New York, overcame a baserunning gaffe in the eighth and a squandered opportunity in the 10th.
With the score tied 4-4, Bobby Abreu led off the bottom of the eighth with a line shot up the right-centre alley but he made too wide a turn at second base.
Derek Jeter cut off Melky Cabrera's throw from the outfield and fired to first baseman Mark Teixeira, who tagged Abreu out after he had shifted over to cover second.
In the 10th, the Angels failed to score against Yankees closer Mariano Rivera with men on first and third and no outs after some outstanding fielding by Teixeira.
Chone Figgins hit a scorcher to Teixeira for a ground out at first, and after Abreu was intentionally walked to load the bases, Torii Hunter hit the ball to the Yankees' first baseman, who threw it to home plate for the force out, before Guerrero ground out to Teixeira to extend the game.
The Angels, however, jumped on the surprising pitching change to Aceves by Girardi with Kendrick coming to the plate.
"As far as (removing) Robertson, we liked the match-up with Ace better," Girardi said. "And it didn't work."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia was proud of his team.
"Today we had to go out and win a ballgame. We went for it pitch by pitch," Scioscia said.
The fourth game of the series will be in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Scott Kazmir will start for the Angels against Yankees' game one winner CC Sabathia.