Series: Game 2 of 3

New York leads 2-0 (as of 4/6)

Game 1: Friday, April 5
Tampa Bay 0Final
New York 4
Game 2: Saturday, April 6
Tampa Bay 0Final
New York 3
Game 3: Sunday, April 7
Tampa Bay 2Final
New York 7

Devil Rays 0

(3-2, 0-2 away)

Yankees 3

(4-1, 2-0 home)

    1:05 PM ET, April 6, 2002

    Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York 

    123456789 R H E
    TB 000000000 0 3 0
    NYY 01011000 - 3 7 1

    W: O. Hernandez (1-0)

    L: W. Alvarez (0-1)

    S: M. Rivera (3)

    Yanks get great pitching again; Giambi struggling

    NEW YORK (AP) -- No wonder the rest of baseball is scared of the New York Yankees: Their starting pitchers have stopped giving up runs.



    El Duque didn't make his first start until July 11.

    Orlando Hernandez, not even guaranteed a starting spot at the start of spring training, became the latest pitcher to make shutout ball seem routine. El Duque allowed one hit in eight innings, Ron Coomer homered in his first at-bat with the Yankees and New York beat Wilson Alvarez in his return from a two-season layoff, topping the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 3-0 Saturday.

    "He was the El Duque of old," Jason Giambi said.

    Since Roger Clemens was hit hard after taking a shot off his pitching hand on opening day, starters David Wells, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and Hernandez have combined for 28 1-3 shutout innings. The four-time defending AL champions have won four straight since losing their opener, taking sole possession of first in the AL East. They have three shutouts -- one-third of their 2001 total.

    "We feel pitching is our strong point, but what we've done we can't expect to happen all the time," said Yankees manager Joe Torre, who got his 1,480th career victory and tied Earl Weaver for 18th on the career list.

    Giambi went 0-for-1 with two walks and a hit by pitch, dropping to 2-for-17 (.118) with no RBI, but he did stir fans with a foul upper-deck drive in the first. Unlike Friday, the fans at Yankee Stadium didn't boo. Instead, they chanted "Let's go Jason!" when he batted against Doug Creek, who hit him near the right shoulder blade in the seventh.

    Giambi was the designated hitter rather than the first baseman on a blustery afternoon with a gametime temperature of 41. He was pinch-run for by Gerald Williams later in the inning.

    "If I had stayed out there a little longer, I would have gotten my ice in," Giambi joked.

    While waiting for Giambi, the Yankees don't have to wonder about El Duque (1-0). Last year, he didn't get a win until Sept. 1, slowed by arm and toe injuries. The 36-year-old right-hander, using a big curveball and what Giambi called a "Bugs Bunny changeup," allowed just a one-out single to right by Toby Hall in the second.

    After a third-inning walk, he retired 15 in a row until Brent Abernathy reached on second baseman Alfonso Soriano's throwing error in the eighth.

    Hernandez, who struck out seven and walked one, arrived at spring training competing with Wells and Sterling Hitchcock for a starting spot and won it when Hitchcock got hurt.

    "El Duque was throwing the kitchen sink at us," Tampa Bay manager Hal McRae said. "Fastballs, sliders, curveballs, change of speeds, whatever he wanted to throw."

    Except for one spring training start against Kansas City, Hernandez has felt fine this year. On Saturday, he dominated batters like he did in 1998 and 1999, and Torre said El Duque will remain in the rotation.

    "During spring training, I just mainly focused on doing my job, not as much worrying about whether I would be one of the five," Hernandez said through a translator.

    Mariano Rivera entered to a standing ovation in his first Yankee Stadium appearance since he wasted a 2-1, ninth-inning lead against Arizona in Game 7 of the World Series and lost 3-2. He gave up two hits, then with runners at the corners and one out, struck out Greg Vaughn and Toby Hall for his third save.

    "He couldn't have been any tougher than El Duque," McRae said. "I was glad to see him come in, and it isn't that often you say that about Mariano Rivera."

    Alvarez was happy just to be back on the mound. He had surgery on his left rotator cuff in May 2000 and he picked up right where he left off -- with a loss to the Yankees. When Alvarez last pitched, on Oct. 2, 1999, Chili Davis and Scott Brosius homered to help David Cone win. All three have retired.

    The 32-year-old left-hander struggled with his control, throwing just 52 of 100 pitches for strikes. He gave up three runs, five hits and four walks in 4 1-3 innings and struck out two _ Soriano twice.

    "It can't be better than that, pitching here at Yankee Stadium," Alvarez said. "I got excited. I wanted to strike everybody out. I tried to overthrow. That's where I got into trouble."

    Coomer, who beat out Luis Sojo during spring training for a backup infield job, started at third while Robin Ventura got a day off and lined a pitch into the left-field lower deck in the second. Rookie Nick Johnson singled in a run in the fourth and Rondell White had an RBI single on the first pitch after Jesus Colome replaced Alvarez in the fifth.

    Coomer's mother and girlfriend were at the game. He became the first player to homer in his first at-bat for the Yankees was Glenallen Hill at Baltimore on July 24, 2000.

    "It's just a special place," Coomer said.

    Game notes

    Kirk Douglas received cheers when he was introduced in the middle of the third inning. ... Yankees RHP Ramiro Mendoza threw one inning at extended spring training and is expected to be activated Monday. ... Tampa Bay is 6-23 at Yankee Stadium, losing 11 of its last 12. ... Hernandez is 7-1 against the Devil Rays.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press