NEW YORK -- Randy Johnson came out because he stiffened up a bit -- or maybe he was just a little tired. Depends who you listen to. One thing is certain, though, the New York Yankees had fun facing Kansas City pitching.
Johnson won despite lasting only five innings, and New York got home runs from Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon to polish off a three-game sweep of the Royals with a 9-3 victory Thursday.
"We all knew it was only a matter of time before the offense started to come around," Giambi said. "I think guys finally started to relax a little bit. Now we're coming up with that big hit, driving in that big run."
The Yankees built a 4-0 lead for Johnson, pulled after 87 pitches. New York manager Joe Torre said the 42-year-old lefty got a little stiff, but didn't think there was any "structural" problem.
"I think this is just a freak thing," Torre said.
Johnson (2-1) first said he simply tired a bit, then agreed the trouble could be called stiffness in his right shoulder. Pitching coach Ron Guidry described it as just "general tiredness."
"Everything's fine. Everything's good," said Johnson, who told Guidry he was done after the top of the fifth. "It's early in the year.
"Just take a little breather and let the bullpen come in. They did a nice job," Johnson added. "I don't need to go out there every time and pitch seven, eight innings."
He and Torre both said they expect Johnson to make his next start. General manager Brian Cashman also said he wasn't concerned.
On the mound, the Big Unit looked sharp. He has 16 strikeouts and no walks in three starts. He had never gone two starts into a season without walking a batter.
Bernie Williams, who finished with three hits, and Robinson Cano each had an RBI single off Denny Bautista (0-1) for the Yankees, who have won 14 straight home games against Kansas City -- a streak that dates to August 2002.
The loss matched the Royals' record for consecutive defeats in an opposing ballpark, set at Detroit's Tiger Stadium from August 1987 to May 1990.
"This is a good time to get out of here," manager Buddy Bell said.
Featuring a biting slider, Johnson cruised into the fifth with a four-run lead. He had allowed only one hit and faced one more than the minimum.
But with two outs, the Royals strung together three hits. Shane Costa poked an 0-2 pitch to left-center for an RBI single.
Graffanino homered against Tanyon Sturtze leading off the eighth, cutting it to 4-2.
Damon added a three-run drive into the right-field upper deck, his first homer with the Yankees, and came out for a curtain call for the crowd of 54,381. He had four RBI.
Every New York starter had a hit for the second consecutive day. The Yankees have scored 40 runs in winning four straight overall.
Kansas City dropped its fourth in a row.
Johnson pitched to Kelly Stinnett, who used to catch the left-hander in Arizona as well. Torre said before the game he might stick with that combination if it works well.
John Flaherty was Johnson's personal catcher last season, and Torre acknowledged that Johnson and regular starter Jorge Posada didn't work well together -- perhaps because of their different personalities, the manager said.
But Torre and Posada said Thursday there was no issue or problem between the star pitcher and catcher.
Sheffield began to refocus Wednesday on using the entire field, and he did a good job of that again in the first inning Thursday with a home run to right-center. It was his second homer in two days and the 452nd of his career, tying Carl Yastrzemski for 27th on baseball's career list.
The Yankees opened the second with four straight singles and pushed the lead to 4-0. Williams had his 1,200th RBI, seventh on the club's career list behind six Hall of Famers.
"I messed up a couple of pitches in the second inning, but I felt pretty good," Bautista said. "They got lucky there. A couple of groundballs and a couple of bloopers, too, but that's the game."
- Kansas City began the day with a 7.23 ERA, worst in the majors by more than half a run.
- Giambi has reached base safely in 14 of his past 18 plate appearances.
- The Yankees have won 22 of 24 against Kansas City at home since the start of the 2000 season.
- Royals OF David DeJesus missed his fifth consecutive game with tightness in his left hamstring.