NEW YORK -- For so much of this season, the Angels' steady defense has been something the club could rely on to help provide a safety net for the quiet offense.
On Thursday, in the most critical of moments, it was their undoing.
Two pitches after second baseman Maicer Izturis committed an error with two outs in the seventh, Angels reliever Scott Downs surrendered a back-breaking grand slam to Robinson Cano, and the Yankees went on to take the series rubber match, 6-5, at Yankee Stadium.
"This is one of the few games this year where not making a play defensively cost us," manager Mike Scioscia said. "You're almost out of that seventh inning and, obviously, they took advantage of the mistake and we just couldn't get back."
After striking out Curtis Granderson upon entering a tied game with one out and two on, Downs induced a grounder to second that Izturis bobbled while charging, allowing Mark Teixeira to reach first base.
"I was going to get the throw away to the first baseman," Izturis said. "It was a slow hop and I went too hard."
Cano made the Angels pay, clobbering Downs' 0-1 delivery off the second level in the right-field stands.
"It was a good pitch," Downs said. "It might not have been in, it might not have been down enough. Who knows? But that's what good hitters do, they make adjustments. I've faced Cano quite a bit in my career, and he's a great hitter. It's like a chess match."
It was the fourth error in 43 games at second base this season for Izturis, and the first in the series for the Angels, who have the fourth-fewest errors in the American League.
"He had to have taken his eye off to read the play, because Izzy has the best hands on that field," Scioscia said. "That was certainly out of the blue. You wouldn't expect that."
Russell Branyan, pinch-hitting in the ninth with two on and one out, homered on the first pitch he saw from Mariano Rivera to narrow the gap, but that was all the Angels could muster.
"It doesn't matter who it is, nobody likes this," said Rivera, who surrendered his second ninth-inning homer of the series. "Nobody wants to go out there and give up the game and throw pitches for home runs. Nobody likes it, but you have to fight it and find a way to get it done."
After stranding five baserunners through the first four innings, the Angels scored first in the fifth when Erick Aybar snapped a career-worst 0-for-30 stretch with an infield single, and Alberto Callaspo made it count with a two-run blast to right field off Yankees starter Bartolo Colon.
Pitching with the 2-0 lead, Angels rookie starter Tyler Chatwood retired the Yankees in order in the bottom half of the inning before Granderson tied things up in the sixth with his fourth homer of the series, a two-run shot that carried just over the right-field wall.
Chatwood left after 5 1/3 innings before Hisanori Takahashi and Fernando Rodney closed the door on the sixth. Rodney walked two of the three batters he faced in the seventh, setting the table for Downs.
The defeat Thursday amounted to just the Halos' second series loss in their last 16 sets. It also overshadowed another solid outing from Chatwood, who took the no-decision after allowing two runs while striking out one.
"For a 21-year-old kid pitching against that lineup, [he] certainly gave us a chance to win," Scioscia said.