Now that's what the Yankees wanted when they traded for Chris Nelson! Too bad for them his big day in the Bronx came in a different uniform.
Nelson hit his first two home runs of the season, including a grand slam against his former team, to send C.J. Wilson and the Los Angeles Angels past New York 8-4 on Thursday.
"He hurt us bad today," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Josh Hamilton and rookie J.B. Shuck each had an RBI single to help the struggling Angels prevent a four-game sweep. Wilson (13-6) won his fifth consecutive decision, keeping Alfonso Soriano in the ballpark after the streaking slugger piled up four homers and 13 RBIs the previous two nights.
Soriano extended his sensational tear, going 4 for 5 with an RBI single, but the Yankees managed little else until a three-run ninth as their four-game winning streak ended. After finishing a 5-2 homestand, they head to Fenway Park this weekend to face first-place Boston.
Nelson spent a couple of weeks with the Yankees in May, one of several replacements they tried at third base while Alex Rodriguez was recovering from hip surgery. A top-10 draft pick by Colorado in 2004, he didn't leave much of an impression until returning with Los Angeles, which claimed him off waivers on May 18.
"Trust me, I enjoyed my time here. I enjoyed the guys and it was a great experience for me," Nelson said.
He hit a solo homer off Phil Hughes (4-12) to make it 3-1 in the fourth, and then added his first career slam off Boone Logan in a five-run eighth. Mike Trout got the inning started by hustling for a pop-fly double that was misjudged by center fielder Brett Gardner.
It was Nelson's first multihomer game in the majors.
Hughes had his best outing in more than a month, throwing 73 of 104 pitches for strikes over six solid innings. But a brief hiccup put him behind in the fourth, and the Yankees never recovered.
"The results weren't exactly what I wanted, but I thought I threw the ball better," said Hughes, who featured a 95 mph heater. "I thought I was locating my fastball a little bit better. A couple mistakes here and there was really the difference."
The right-hander dropped to 0-5 in his last seven starts. He has lost 10 of his past 12 decisions and is 1-9 this season at home, where he's given up 17 of his 23 homers.
"I thought his command was better today," Girardi said. "He needs to keep improving."
Wilson worked around 11 hits and threw a season-high 124 pitches in 6 2-3 innings. The left-hander limited the Yankees to one run after they totaled 25 the previous two nights, improving to 9-1 with a 2.76 ERA in his last 12 starts.
The run began with a win over New York at home on June 14. He is 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in five career starts against the Yankees, who outhit Los Angeles 15-11.
Wilson needed 71 pitches to get through three innings. It could have been more, but Vernon Wells grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded after the Angels botched a popup.
That was the turning point for Wilson, who held New York in check on 53 pitches over the next 3 2-3 innings.
Erick Aybar hit a leadoff double in the fourth, advanced on a passed ball and scored on Hank Conger's sacrifice fly. Nelson then fouled off four straight full-count pitches before sending an opposite-field drive into the right-center bullpen for his first home run since Sept. 14 with Colorado.
"It's a great day for Chris, both offensively and defensively," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's good to see his bat come alive."
Hamilton's two-out RBI single put Los Angeles up in the first after Shuck singled and stole second.
Moments later, Soriano socked a line drive off the left-field wall. But he jogged out of the box and was thrown out at second on a fine play by Shuck.
Gardner tripled in the third and scored when Soriano singled through a drawn-in infield for his 14th RBI in three days.
The only time the Angels retired Soriano, it came on a nice play at third by Nelson. He also started the critical double play against Wells.
"Everything just fell in place for me," Nelson said.