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It was the first earned run allowed at home by the 39-year-old Rivera in a postseason save situation. But the Yankees added two insurance runs in the eighth on a pair of Angels errors and Teixeira's sacrifice fly.
Rivera finished up for his record 37th postseason save, and the Yankees had their elusive pennant.
"You bring him in, you feel like the game's over. He's the best," Pettitte said.
Rodriguez reached base all five times up and drew a bases-loaded walk in the fourth that put New York ahead 3-1. Earlier in the inning, Damon gave the Yankees the lead with a single off 16-game winner Joe Saunders.
Including their unprecedented collapse against Boston in 2004, the Yankees had lost five straight times with a chance to close out an ALCS -- and six in a row with an opportunity to end a playoff series.
But this time, New York got it done with leadership from Jeter, Pettitte, Rivera and Posada, all part of the late 1990s dynasty under manager Joe Torre.
As for Rodriguez, his tumultuous year began with a tense news conference to admit steroids use from 2001-03 with Texas, then hip surgery that sidelined him until May.
It will end in the World Series.
"Pretty incredible, especially with all the stuff I've been through this year," he said. "I just felt very happy and very blessed, and all I cared about this year was winning games."
Normally airtight on defense and fundamentals, the Angels made eight errors in the series and several other uncharacteristic mistakes. The miscues continued early in the clincher, when Saunders walked five in 3 1-3 shaky innings and Guerrero was doubled off first base on a shallow fly.
With no Rally Monkey bouncing around the video board in the Bronx, Los Angeles failed to pull off one of its signature comebacks. The Angels trailed in all eight of their playoff victories against New York, including a stirring 7-6 triumph in Game 5 on Thursday night that extended the series.
Looking to lock up the pennant, the Yankees turned to a familiar source of success in Pettitte. The 37-year-old left-hander delivered, allowing only one run for his second closeout win of these playoffs. He also beat Minnesota to complete a first-round sweep.
Always a picture of poise and focus in October, narrowed eyes peering between his cap and glove as he takes his signs on the mound, Pettitte also owns postseason records with 38 starts and 237 1-3 innings pitched.
Pettitte was pitching at home for the Yankees in the postseason for the first time since their last World Series game, a 2-0 loss to Josh Beckett and the Florida Marlins in 2003.
This one was a different story.
"They beat us fair and square," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said. "It's just frustrating right now."
NOTES: The Phillies won two of three at Yankee Stadium in May. ... Rodriguez has hit in 11 straight postseason games. ... The Yankees are 5-0 at home this postseason.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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