Oakland at New York

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N.Y. Yankees «11200001x550

Yankees restore order with victory over A's

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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NEW YORK -- For Mike Mussina, it was important to finish what he started.

Mussina saved a struggling New York bullpen with a four-hitter Saturday, pitching the Yankees to a 5-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

The win ended a four-game losing streak that had dropped the seven-time defending AL East champions into a last-place tie with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, nine games behind first-place Baltimore.

It also was the only victory of the day for owner George Steinbrenner. His horse, Bellamy Road, was the Kentucky Derby favorite but finished seventh.

Mussina (3-2) dominated the Athletics with his 22nd career shutout and first since Aug. 17, 2003 -- which was also the last complete-game victory by a Yankees pitcher. He struck out three, walked two and allowed only two runners to reach second base in his 131-pitch outing.

"Finishing was obviously important to him," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He had command of the strike zone. He threw all his pitches and he was able to throw strikes."

With 11 wins after 30 games, the Yankees had their poorest record at that point since 1966, when they also were 11-19. The last time the team was eight games under .500 was June 1995, the year before Torre became manager and led the Yankees to nine consecutive playoff appearances, including six American League pennants and four World Series championships.

Had the Yankees lost, they would have had their fewest wins after 31 games since 1913, when they were 9-22.

"A well-pitched ballgame changes your personality," Torre said. "It seems the ball club takes on a different personality. There's less tension. The defense is crisper. This was a good sign. It was a baby step because of the way we won. Hopefully, this will be our signature this year."

In a sport where pitch counts are kept meticulously, Mussina ignored the growing number, getting the edge batter after batter with first-pitch strikes.

Mussina threw first-pitch strikes to 24 of the 32 hitters he faced. It was an important advantage.

"Any time you throw strike one to hitters, it allows you to do a lot more things," he said. "I threw a lot of fastballs and curves and mixed in other things from time to time."

The Athletics noticed.

"We didn't have many opportunities," manager Ken Macha said. "He got first-pitch strikes on 75 percent of our hitters and went to work from there. He was getting ahead of the hitters and using all his pitches. He was very good with that."

Mussina cruised through the Oakland lineup, allowing two runners in the same inning just once until the ninth. Then, when the Athletics put men on first and second with two outs in the ninth, Torre came jogging to the mound.

"How're we doing?" he asked Mussina.

"Go on back," the pitcher replied.

New York managed just five hits against Joe Blanton and two relievers, but gave Mussina an early lead.

The Yankees picked up a quick run against Blanton (0-3) in the first inning when Derek Jeter drew a leadoff walk and scored on a double into the left-field corner by Gary Sheffield.

In the second, Tino Martinez hit Blanton's first pitch for his fifth home run of the season, making it 2-0.

The Yankees doubled their lead an inning later. Tony Womack singled with one out and Sheffield walked. The runners advanced on an infield out and Alex Rodriguez doubled them home.

Rodriguez singled home another run in the eighth.

Before Saturday, the Yankees had lost eight of the last 10 games, tumbling to the bottom of the standings. Torre was blunt about the slump, saying, "Right now, we stink. The more games you lose now, the more you have to make up later."

Notes

  • The win was the first for the Yankees since the roster shake-up that promoted minor-league 2B Robinson Cano, moved Womack to LF and Hideki Matsui to CF. They had lost four in a row since making the changes.
  • The Yankees have used seven starting pitchers, tying Boston and Tampa Bay for the most in the majors this season..
  • The win was the 899th for Torre as manager of the Yankees. He is fifth on the team's all-time list, trailing Joe McCarthy (1,460), Casey Stengel (1,149), Miller Huggins (1,067) and Ralph Houk (944).
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Mike Mussina needs 131 pitches to earn his 22nd career shutout and first since Aug. 17, 2003.  (Getty Images)
Mike Mussina needs 131 pitches to earn his 22nd career shutout and first since Aug. 17, 2003. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
New York

M. Mussina
IP 9.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 2
K 3
New York

A. Rodriguez
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 3
 

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Oakland Athletics
Mark Kotsay, CF4010011 .303
Jason Kendall, C4000002 .234
Eric Chavez, 3B3000112 .197
Scott Hatteberg, 1B4010000 .264
Bobby Kielty, RF3000112 .255
Erubiel Durazo, DH3000001 .238
Mark Ellis, 2B3000000 .273
Eric Byrnes, LF3010000 .203
Marco Scutaro, SS3010001 .267
Totals30040239 
Fielding
E - Eric Chavez (6, Wild throw)
Oakland Athletics
Joe Blanton (L,0-3) 6444331 3.22
Huston Street 1000010 2.81
Justin Duchscherer 1110010 1.45
Pitches-Strikes - Joe Blanton 100-62, Huston Street 13-8, Justin Duchscherer 24-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Blanton 7-8, Huston Street 1-1, Justin Duchscherer 2-1
Batters Faced - Joe Blanton 25, Huston Street 3, Justin Duchscherer 5
New York Yankees
Derek Jeter, SS3100101 .303
Tony Womack, LF4110011 .286
Gary Sheffield, RF3211100 .336
Hideki Matsui, CF4000022 .231
Alex Rodriguez, 3B4023001 .297
Tino Martinez, 1B4111002 .256
Jorge Posada, C2000110 .250
Andy Phillips, DH3000011 .156
Robinson Cano, 2B3000001 .118
Totals30555359 
Batting
2B - Gary Sheffield (11, Blanton), Alex Rodriguez (7, Blanton)
HR - Tino Martinez (5, Blanton)
RBI - Gary Sheffield (24), Alex Rodriguez 3 (31), Tino Martinez (11)
2-OUT RBI - Alex Rodriguez 3 (16)
SB - Gary Sheffield (4, 2nd base off Duchscherer/Kendall)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Mussina-Jeter-T. Martinez
New York Yankees
Mike Mussina (W,3-2) 9400230 3.60
Pitches-Strikes - Mike Mussina 131-83
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mike Mussina 14-9
Batters Faced - Mike Mussina 32
Game Information
Attendance - 52776
Game Time - 2:31
Temperature - 54
Umpires - Home - Wally Bell, First Base - Kerwin Danley, Second Base - Chris Guccione, Third Base - Jim Reynolds