New York at Minnesota

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N.Y. Yankees «0000200101470
Minnesota0003000000362

Yankees need extra innings to end losing streak

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

MINNEAPOLIS -- Even with all their experience, all their stars and all their accomplishments, the New York Yankees were in need of some confidence with their losing streak at six.

They got the boost they needed, perhaps putting George Steinbrenner at ease for a bit.

Ruben Sierra's sacrifice fly in the 10th inning sent the Yankees past the Minnesota Twins 4-3 on Saturday night, relieving some tension in a clubhouse that was admittedly on edge.

"We've got a lot of games to go, and we don't have to get pressure," Sierra said. "We just have to play hard and let it happen."

Joe Nathan (1-2) walked Hideki Matsui with one out, and Alex Rodriguez singled him to third -- when Matsui barely beat a strong throw from center fielder Torii Hunter.

Sierra, who struck out with the bases loaded as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, smacked a fly to deep center field - where Hunter caught it but had no other play.

Tom Gordon (1-3) threw two scoreless innings for the victory. Mariano Rivera, who has not allowed a run in his last 11 appearances, picked up his 13th save in 15 opportunities with a perfect 10th - his first save since May 27.

That was the last time New York scored more than three runs. It was also the date of its last win.

"It don't matter to me about the save," Rivera said. "We want to win."

With a crowd of 45,553 cheering against them -- the second-largest at the Metrodome this season -- the Yankees (28-27) climbed back from an early 3-0 hole and improved to 2-24 when trailing after seven innings.

Steinbrenner, the team's notoriously impatient owner, put the pressure on this weekend for a turnaround, holding a conference call with manager Joe Torre and general manager Brian Cashman and stressing that this $200 million club is letting down New York's devoted fans.

But Taiwanese rookie starter Chien-Ming Wang gave the Yankees seven solid innings, giving them a chance for the late rally.

"Every game is important," Wang said. "I just try to think about not losing and not giving up runs."

Jacque Jones hit a three-run homer for the Twins, whose three-game winning streak ended. They let New York tie the game at 3 with a sloppy eighth, wasting a fine outing by starter Joe Mays.

Rookie Robinson Cano, who hit a two-run double in the fifth, scored on a bases-loaded groundout by Matsui after lefty J.C. Romero relieved Mays.

Rodriguez was intentionally walked, right-hander Juan Rincon replaced Romero and Sierra pinch-hit for Jason Giambi.

It was Sierra who hit the three-run homer in the eighth off Rincon in Game 4 of last year's first-round playoff series, sending it to extra innings and spurring the Yankees on to the AL championship series.

This time, Sierra -- now 3-for-23 batting left-handed this season -- struck out on a pitch above his neck and off the plate.

But the Minnesota had already done itself in. Second baseman Brent Abernathy dropped a throw for an error, instead of securing a sure out. First baseman Terry Tiffee, who fielded Matsui's grounder, stepped on the bag before throwing home, erasing the force play and allowing Cano to slide in safely.

"Missed a couple of plays, and it seems like it comes back and costs you every time," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We gave away Joe's ballgame."

With a pair of All-Stars out of the lineup -- captain and shortstop Derek Jeter rested because of a bad cold and catcher Jorge Posada got a scheduled day off until he entered as a pinch-hitter in the ninth -- the Yankees again had trouble getting going.

Mays held them hitless until the fifth, when Rodriguez beat out a grounder that shortstop Juan Castro fielded deep in the hole. John Flaherty drew a two-out walk, and Cano followed with his two-run double to the wall in center field that cut the lead to 3-2.

Mays completed 7 1/3 innings, yielding four hits, three runs -- two earned -- and two walks (one intentional) while striking out three.

"I've had quite a few no-decisions, but in all of those games I've given my team a chance to win," Mays said.

Making his sixth career start, Wang put himself in a hole after a leadoff single by Lew Ford in the fourth inning. He hit Hunter on the wrist with a wayward pitch, threw ball one to Jones -- and then watched his next offering soar above left field and nearly land in the upper deck to make it 3-0.

Wang gave up five hits, three runs and one walk, striking out one.

"He's certainly established himself as a big-league pitcher," Torre said. "He just has handled every situation with a calm."

Notes

  • Torre said he wasn't sure if Jeter would play Sunday.
  • The Twins were without catcher Joe Mauer (groin) and first baseman Justin Morneau (elbow) for the second straight game. Mauer pinch-hit in the eighth, but he was unable to play the field. Gardenhire said Morneau would have an MRI on Sunday.
  • Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper was one of the participants in a softball home run hitting contest. Culpepper was drafted by the Yankees in the 26th round in 1995 out of Vanguard High School in Ocala, Fla.
 
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Hideki Matsui reaches third base safely before scoring the winning run on a sacrifice fly.  (AP)
Hideki Matsui reaches third base safely before scoring the winning run on a sacrifice fly. (AP)

Players of the Game
New York

R. Cano
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 2
Minnesota

J. Jones
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 3
 

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New York Yankees
Tony Womack, LF5000013 .259
Rey Sanchez, SS3000000 .270
   a- Bernie Williams, PH1000002 .250
    Russ Johnson, 3B0000000 .111
Gary Sheffield, RF4000121 .315
Hideki Matsui, CF4111111 .271
Alex Rodriguez, 3B-SS4020101 .317
Jason Giambi, DH3000011 .228
   b- Ruben Sierra, PH-DH1001013 .200
Tino Martinez, 1B4100101 .245
John Flaherty, C2100100 .211
   c- Jorge Posada, PH-C2010002 .282
Robinson Cano, 2B4132000 .258
Totals374745615 
a-grounded out for Sanchez in the 9th
b-struck out for Giambi in the 8th
c-singled for Flaherty in the 9th
Batting
2B - Robinson Cano (8, Mays)
SF - Ruben Sierra (1)
SH - Rey Sanchez (2)
RBI - Hideki Matsui (38), Ruben Sierra (10), Robinson Cano 2 (13)
2-OUT RBI - Robinson Cano 2 (4)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
DP - Sanchez-Cano-T. Martinez
New York Yankees
Chien-Ming Wang 7533111 4.03
Tom Gordon (W,1-3) 2100020 2.96
Mariano Rivera (S,13) 1000020 1.33
HBP - Hunter (by Chien-Ming Wang)
Pitches-Strikes - Chien-Ming Wang 93-60, Tom Gordon 22-17, Mariano Rivera 14-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chien-Ming Wang 13-6, Tom Gordon 1-3, Mariano Rivera 1-0
Batters Faced - Chien-Ming Wang 27, Tom Gordon 7, Mariano Rivera 3
Minnesota Twins
Shannon Stewart, LF5000002 .287
Brent Abernathy, 2B3000002 .333
   a- Joe Mauer, PH1000000 .301
    Luis Rodriguez, 2B0000000 .222
Lew Ford, DH3110111 .289
Torii Hunter, CF3110011 .268
Jacque Jones, RF4113011 .280
Terry Tiffee, 1B4000001 .194
Michael Cuddyer, 3B4000001 .253
Mike Redmond, C4010010 .233
Juan Castro, SS4020010 .250
Totals35363159 
a-flied out for Abernathy in the 8th
Batting
2B - Juan Castro (6, Wang)
HR - Jacque Jones (6, Wang)
RBI - Jacque Jones 3 (24)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Jacque Jones 1
E - Brent Abernathy (1, Missed catch), Terry Tiffee (3, Missed catch)
Minnesota Twins
Joe Mays 7.1432230 3.59
J.C. Romero (BS,1) 0.1000100 1.64
Juan Rincon 1.1200020 2.22
Joe Nathan (L,1-2) 0.2111210 2.88
Terry Mulholland 0.1000000 4.05
IBB - Sheffield by Joe Mays, Rodriguez by J.C. Romero
Pitches-Strikes - Joe Mays 100-62, J.C. Romero 9-2, Juan Rincon 16-13, Joe Nathan 20-9, Terry Mulholland 2-1
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Mays 13-8, J.C. Romero 1-0, Juan Rincon 2-0
Batters Faced - Joe Mays 30, J.C. Romero 2, Juan Rincon 6, Joe Nathan 5, Terry Mulholland 1
Game Information
Attendance - 45553
Game Time - 2:59
Temperature - 70
Umpires - Home - Ed Rapuano, First Base - Jerry Crawford, Second Base - C.B. Bucknor, Third Base - Phil Cuzzi