Series: Game 3 of 3

New York won 3-0

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 2

(3-3, 0-3 away)

Yankees 7

(5-1, 3-0 home)

    1:05 PM ET, April 7, 2002

    Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York 

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    NYY 30010201 - 7 11 1

    W: R. Clemens (1-1)

    L: T. Sturtze (0-1)

    Solid Clemens start completes near-perfect streak

    NEW YORK (AP) -- If the New York Yankees keep pitching like this, they won't have to settle for AL championship rings next season.

    Roger Clemens

    Roger Clemens' earned run was the first one given up by Yankees starters in 33 1/3 innings.

    Roger Clemens completed a near flawless turn through the rotation, allowing one earned run in 7 1-3 innings as the Yankees swept the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with a 7-2 win Sunday.

    "Pitching is our strong suit," manager Joe Torre said. "It's great to be able to go out there and control games. We've been able to do that with our pitching."

    Yankees starters had not allowed a run since Opening Day until the Devil Rays scored an unearned run in the sixth. That snapped New York's 23-inning scoreless streak and a 33 1-3-inning stretch by the starters. The Devil Rays ended their own 26-inning scoreless run.

    "If I was on the opposition, I wouldn't want to face our pitchers," said Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who had three hits and three RBI.

    Jason Giambi got his first RBI with New York, which has won five straight since losing 10-3 on opening day in Baltimore.

    The Yankees received their rings for their 38th AL pennant before the game. While that is a cause for celebration some places, winning it all is the only acceptable result for George Steinbrenner's team.

    Stellar pitching should give the Yankees a good chance at regaining the title they won three straight years before blowing a 2-1 ninth-inning lead in Game 7 of the World Series to Arizona last year.

    Giambi should also help once he gets comfortable. Giambi, 3-for-21 this season, got a standing ovation after his run-scoring single in the eighth. After being booed much of his first weekend in New York, Giambi laughed as he left for pinch-runner Ron Coomer.

    "I finally got that big hit today, got that out of the way," Giambi said. "That 3,000-pound gorilla finally jumped out of the stadium."

    Giambi's slow start hasn't mattered. Clemens (1-1) followed up scoreless stints by David Wells, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and Orlando Hernandez with a strong start of his own.

    Last year, the Yankees top four of Clemens, Mussina, Pettitte, Hernandez didn't win consecutive starts until Sept. 5-9.

    "This is obviously the best starting rotation I've been involved in," Clemens said. "When you add in the bullpen, it's the best staff. I didn't think it could get much better than last year, but we got deeper."

    Clemens, the only Yankees starter to allow a run, retired the first 13 batters until Ben Grieve's double with one out in the fifth. Bernie Williams made a diving attempt on the liner to right-center, but the ball one-hopped off his glove and rolled away.

    "He had no-hit stuff. He was rearing back and letting it go," Torre said. "He looked like he was really locked in today. After watching from the sidelines, he was ready for this today."

    Clemens showed no ill effects from the swollen hand he sustained trying to barehand a grounder on opening day. He even made a nice stab -- this time with his glove -- off Brent Abernathy's hard grounder to save a run in the fifth.

    The Devil Rays, who sent Clemens to two of his three losses last year, finally broke through in the sixth with some help from two misplays in the field. John Flaherty reached on second baseman Alfonso Soriano's throwing error.

    With one out, Jason Tyner hit into a forceout and then stole second. He scored on Randy Winn's line single to right that John Vander Wal trapped after hesitating when the ball came off the bat.

    Clemens left to a standing ovation after allowing consecutive doubles with one out in the eighth to Abernathy and Flaherty. Clemens allowed four hits and struck out nine to earn his 281st career win.

    "He was getting a lot of early strikes," Abernathy said. "We weren't getting into good hitters counts where we could sit on the fastball."

    The Yankees started fast against Tanyon Sturtze (0-1), who beat New York three times last season. Soriano and Jeter doubled to open the game and Jorge Posada added a two-run single in the inning. Jeter had RBI singles in the fourth and the sixth inning and Nick Johnson also had a run-scoring single in the sixth.

    The Devil Rays, who came into Yankee Stadium in first place, left with three losses and two runs. Now, they head to Baltimore where they start a three-game series with the Orioles on Tuesday.

    "Tuesday night will give us a better indication of where we are," manager Hal McRae said. "We were sort of overmatched here.

    Game notes

    Johnson played first base for the third time this season. Giambi was the DH. ... Torre won his 1,481st career game, moving past Earl Weaver into 18th place. ... The Devil Rays have lost 12 of 13 at Yankee Stadium. Their only win in the stretch came Sept. 25, when the Yankees clinched the AL East.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press