NEW YORK — Colin Curtis already was down two strikes when he hopped off the bench. By the time he returned, the New York Yankees were lining up to push the shy rookie out for a curtain call.
Rushed up to the plate after Brett Gardner was ejected, Curtis cracked a three-run homer Wednesday that sealed New York’s 10-6 victory over Joel Pineiro and the Los Angeles Angels.
“It worked out perfect,” Gardner said. “Shoot, I was up there trying to get the guy in from third. He went up there and hit a three-run homer.”
Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano supplied the early offense that ended Pineiro’s seven-game winning streak, and the Yankees managed a two-game split to finish 4-4 against the Angels this season after beating them in last year’s AL championship series.
Pitching on 10 days’ rest, Javier Vazquez (8-7) nearly squandered a six-run cushion, withering quickly in the sweltering humidity on an 88-degree afternoon that felt like hot soup. But the right-hander hung on just long enough — with major help from the bullpen — for his 150th career win, becoming the third active pitcher to beat all 30 major league teams.
The Yankees said San Francisco’s Barry Zito and Philadelphia’s Jamie Moyer are the others, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“The whole bullpen did a great job out there,” Vazquez said.
Bobby Wilson and ex-Yankee Hideki Matsui each hit a two-run homer for Los Angeles. Matsui’s drive cut it to 6-5 in the sixth, but David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain wriggled out of jams to keep New York ahead. Mariano Rivera worked a perfect ninth.
“We were just swimming upstream for most of the day,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Pineiro (10-7) was 7-0 with a 2.51 ERA in his previous eight starts, but 10 of his first 21 batters got hits as the Yankees built a 6-0 lead. Teixeira doubled twice and drove in three runs, Cano hit a two-run homer and Derek Jeter had three hits and scored three times.
“It was tough. Everything was up. It was just one of those days when you didn’t have your best stuff,” Pineiro said.
Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez went 0 for 5 with an RBI groundout, remaining at 598 home runs.
Juan Miranda hit a solo homer off Scot Shields in the seventh to make it 7-5. Curtis Granderson singled and went to third on Francisco Cervelli’s hit-and-run single off the glove of leaping second baseman Howie Kendrick before Gardner was ejected with an 0-2 count for arguing a call by plate umpire Paul Emmel.
The soft-spoken Gardner said it was the first time he’d been tossed from a game at any level.
Curtis took over, worked the count full and hit a line drive just over the right-field fence for his first major league homer.
“He’s had a ton of big hits for us without a lot of starts,” manager Joe Girardi said. “That’s not easy for a young man that’s used to playing and getting at-bat after at-bat. To come into that situation down 0-2 and hit a home run, that’s some kind of at-bat.”
Called up from the minors a month ago, a sheepish Curtis had to be prodded by Teixeira and other teammates to pop out of the dugout and acknowledge the cheering crowd of 47,521.
“I didn’t really know I was supposed to,” Curtis said. “Running around the bases, I think you’re still kind of in the moment of hitting it. Once you get around, the curtain call is just a lot of excitement. I’ve seen a lot of players do that in the past. To get that opportunity, it’s a thrill.”
Curtis said a Yankees security official retrieved the souvenir ball from the fan who caught it — in exchange for a ball signed by Jeter and A-Rod.
“I had to ask them for autographs after the game,” Curtis said.
Los Angeles has dropped eight of 10 on the road. The Angels, who began the day five games behind the first-place Rangers in the AL West, open a four-game series at Texas on Thursday night with Jered Weaver on the mound against Cliff Lee in a marquee pitching matchup.
“That home run for Colin broke our backs,” Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. A guy getting thrown out and the guy hitting a home run in his spot.”
NOTES: Matsui, last year’s World Series MVP for the Yankees, also homered in the Angels’ 10-2 victory Tuesday night. Entering the series, he had one home run since June 7. … Teixeira has reached base safely in a career-best 37 consecutive games, the longest streak by a Yankees player since Rodriguez got to 53 straight in 2004. … New York ace CC Sabathia celebrated his 30th birthday. He starts Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series against Kansas City. … Rodriguez hit career homer No. 1 (in June 1995) and No. 500 (in August 2007) against the Royals.