|N.Y. Yankees «||0||1||0||0||1||0||4||1||x||7||12||0|
NEW YORK -- When Jaret Wright walked off the mound at Yankee Stadium with an aching right shoulder on April 23, he didn't know whether his season was over.
He returned triumphantly Monday night, giving the New York Yankees his second straight strong start following a layoff of nearly four months.
Wright got out of a bases-loaded jam in the first and went on to allow just four hits in seven sharp innings, pitching the Yankees to a 7-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays that moved New York into a tie for the AL wild-card lead.
In that April start, Wright came out after 5 1/3 innings of a 10-2 loss to Texas and his ERA stood at 9.15.
"There was a lot of doubts whether I'd be able to play again," he said.
He made it back to the major leagues on Aug. 15, pitching 6 1/3 innings in a 5-2 victory at Tampa Bay. In the two starts since he was activated, he has allowed two runs in 13 1/3 innings, a 1.35 ERA. He joined Mike Mussina and Randy Johnson to give the Yankees three of their original starting pitchers. Al Leiter and Shawn Chacon fill out the rotation for now.
"I think it's the best our pitching staff has been since I've been here, in over a year-and-a-half," said Alex Rodriguez, who doubled in a run in the eighth to reach 100 RBI for the eighth straight season.
"If we're going to do it, it's going to be our pitching," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
Hideki Matsui drove in three runs for New York, which broke open a close game with a four-run seventh. The $200 million Yankees (68-55) moved within 3½ games of idle Boston (71-55), the AL East leader, and tied Oakland in the wild-card race, less than a percentage point ahead of Cleveland (69-56).
"In our situation, we were just happy to be hanging around," Torre said. "As badly as we played at times and as frustrating as some streaks have been, we always managed to stay close enough to make sure that if we did go into a little hot streak, we could do something. And right now, we control our own destiny. That's really all you want. We have our future in our hands.
"Obviously, if we don't get the job done, it means we weren't good enough."
Wright (4-2) walked the bases loaded in the first but retired Gregg Zaun on an inning-ending flyout. He threw 46 pitches over the first two innings but needed just 53 to get through the next five before Alan Embree, Tanyon Sturtze and Scott Proctor finished the five-hitter.
"The first inning was scary," Wright said. "I felt a little out of synch early."
Wright got help when second baseman Robinson Cano threw out Shea Hillenbrand at the plate in the fourth on Zaun's grounder with the infield in. With runners at the corners in the fifth, Frank Catalanotto grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Rodriguez made a diving backhand stop on Zaun's grounder to third leading off the seventh. Felix Escalona, playing shortstop to give Derek Jeter a night off to recover from a jammed right thumb, jumped to snare a liner by the next batter, Alex Rios.
"I thought Wright looked really good," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "It looked like he got his fastball back. We didn't see that early in the year."
Scott Downs (1-3) gave up two runs -- one earned -- and six hits in six innings for Toronto, which lost its fourth straight. He was making his Yankee Stadium debut.
"I went out on the field when nobody was out there and looked around," he said. "It's a dream come true. A lot of kids dream about coming here to pitch, at Yankee Stadium, and I got to do it."
Gibbons was ejected by plate umpire Marvin Hudson in the seventh for arguing after Bernie Williams was called safe at the plate on Matsui's two-run single. Zaun had tried to block the plate.
"If you want them to fight for you, you have to fight for them," Gibbons said.
Matsui added a long sacrifice fly to left-center in the fifth and made it 4-0 with the seventh-inning single off Pete Walker.
Wright was pleased to have started the homestand with a win.
"Coming back home here after the way I pitched and getting hurt and whatnot, I think it was a big start for me," he said. "I was excited to pitch again here."
|Jaret Wright earns his second win in as many starts since returning from his shoulder injury. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Russ Adams, SS||2||0||1||0||1||0||0||.276|
|a- Aaron Hill, PH-SS||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.293|
|Frank Catalanotto, LF||2||0||0||0||1||1||1||.287|
|b- Reed Johnson, PH-LF||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.275|
|Vernon Wells, CF||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.278|
|Shea Hillenbrand, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||0||3||.295|
|Corey Koskie, 3B||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.234|
|Gregg Zaun, C||4||0||0||0||0||0||3||.260|
|Alex Rios, RF||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.275|
|Eric Hinske, DH||3||0||1||0||0||1||0||.257|
|Orlando Hudson, 2B||3||0||1||0||0||2||1||.276|
|a-doubled for R. Adams in the 8th|
|b-struck out for Catalanotto in the 8th|
|2B - Aaron Hill (18, Embree), Shea Hillenbrand (29, Wright)|
|SB - Russ Adams (7, 2nd base off Wright/Posada)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - Koskie-Hudson-Hillenbrand|
|E - Russ Adams (22, misplayed grounder)|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Scott Downs (L,1-3)||6||6||2||1||2||2||0||4.53|
|HBP - Escalona (by Scott Downs), Sheffield (by Pete Walker)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Scott Downs 100-59, Pete Walker 21-12, Scott Schoeneweis 13-9, Vinnie Chulk 19-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Downs 10-6, Scott Schoeneweis 1-0, Vinnie Chulk 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Scott Downs 27, Pete Walker 6, Scott Schoeneweis 3, Vinnie Chulk 5|
|New York Yankees|
|Tony Womack, CF||5||2||2||0||0||0||5||.245|
|Bernie Williams, DH||3||2||1||0||2||0||1||.252|
|Gary Sheffield, RF||4||1||0||0||0||0||2||.299|
|Alex Rodriguez, 3B||5||1||3||1||0||1||4||.319|
|Hideki Matsui, LF||4||1||2||3||0||0||2||.296|
|Jorge Posada, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||3||.251|
|Jason Giambi, 1B||3||0||2||1||1||1||2||.273|
|Tino Martinez, PR-1B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.243|
|Felix Escalona, SS||3||0||1||1||0||0||3||.143|
|Robinson Cano, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||1||6||.274|
|2B - Tony Womack (8, Chulk), Alex Rodriguez 2 (24, Downs, Chulk)|
|SF - Hideki Matsui (7)|
|RBI - Alex Rodriguez (100), Hideki Matsui 3 (93), Jason Giambi (52), Felix Escalona (1)|
|2-OUT RBI - Alex Rodriguez (46), Jason Giambi (18), Felix Escalona (1)|
|SB - Tony Womack (26, 2nd base off Walker/Zaun)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|DP - Cano-Escalona-Giambi|
|New York Yankees|
|Jaret Wright (W,4-2)||7||4||0||0||3||5||0||6.00|
|WP - Jaret Wright (3)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jaret Wright 99-60, Alan Embree 2-1, Tanyon Sturtze 8-6, Scott Proctor 15-9|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jaret Wright 9-6, Tanyon Sturtze 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Jaret Wright 27, Alan Embree 1, Tanyon Sturtze 3, Scott Proctor 3|
|Attendance - 50162|
|Game Time - 2:56|
|Temperature - 84|
|Umpires - Home - Marvin Hudson, First Base - Larry Young, Second Base - Eric Cooper, Third Base - Field Culbreth|