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Soriano continues to display power stroke

NEW YORK (AP) -- Joe Torre gave Ted Lilly a suggestion the other
day.

"You've got to start taking these guys out to dinner," the New
York Yankees manager told his young pitcher. "They're not hitting
for you."

It's unclear whether Torre's words provided food for thought,
but Lilly finally got some backing Saturday and got his first win
this season, 6-2 over the Minnesota Twins.

Alfonso Soriano homered for the third straight day, a
tiebreaking three-run drive off Bob Wells in the sixth inning that
sent the Yankees on to their 10th win in 11 games.

"Once you get on a winning pace, it's contagious," said Jason
Giambi, whose dramatic 14th-inning grand slam rallied the New York
to a 13-12 win Friday night.

Just 14 hours later, Soriano resumed the Yankees' Bronx bombing.
They have homered in 10 straight games and have 21 in their last
six, raising their major league-leading total to 69.

"This is probably the deepest club I've had in the seven years
I've been here, offensively," said Torre, who has led the Yankees
to four World Series titles and five AL pennants.

Lilly (1-3) had gotten an average of just 2.8 runs of support in
his first four outings, losing even when he pitched a one-hitter at
Seattle. The quiet 26-year-old left-hander is in the rotation
because of an injury to Andy Pettitte, but his ERA, which dropped
to 2.61, is the best among Yankees starters.

When Pettitte returns, Lilly could find himself back in the
bullpen.

"I don't feel I have to prove myself or anything like that,"
Lilly said. "Whatever it is, when I get the ball, it's important
for me to be productive."

Lilly matched his season high with nine strikeouts, allowing two
runs -- one earned -- and five hits in seven innings. He has 37
strikeouts in 38 innings, allowing just 22 hits and a .162
opponents' batting average.

"He hit his spots," Minnesota's Torii Hunter said. "He had a
sneaky fastball. When he needed to, he really threw it."

Tony Fiore (2-1), making his first major league start following
nine relief appearances this season, gave up four straight hits and
two runs in the first, then didn't allow any runs until the sixth.

With the score 2-all, former-Twin Ron Coomer singled leading off
and Alberto Castillo singled for his first hit in 15 at-bats this
season -- earning a standing ovation.

"The fans, they were more happy than me," Castillo said.

Bob Wells relieved to face Soriano, who had struck out three
times against Fiore, chasing high pitches. Soriano took two balls,
then drove the next pitch for his team-leading 11th homer.

Soriano struck out in his final at-bat, raising his total to a
league-leading 49.

"When I see the high ball, I see the ball big and I swing,"
said Soriano, determined to force Wells into throwing a strike.

"He's tough to figure out," Torre said. "At this juncture,
we're not expecting him to lead the club in home runs, and here he
is."

Giambi and Bernie Williams had hit RBI singles in the first
inning, but the Twins tied it on Tom Prince's run-scoring single in
the second and Dustan Mohr's two-out bloop RBI double in the sixth.

After a walk to Bobby Kielty, Casey Blake tried to check his
swing on a pitch in the dirt from Lilly. The ball bounded to the
backstop as Mohr rounded third and came home, but plate umpire Gary
Darling ruled that Blake went around and the ball hit Blake in the
foot, ending the inning.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire came out to argue and quickly was
ejected for the second time this season.

"It was a dead ball. I knew that," Gardenhire said. "But I
also didn't think Blake swung at it. I said, 'You should have
gotten help,' but he made the call. What are you going to do?"

Game notes
Shane Spencer's run-scoring single in the seventh was his
first RBI since May 1. He had made the final out in three of the
first five innings, stranding seven runners. ... Fiore allowed four
runs and nine hits in five-plus innings, raising his ERA from 0.89
to 2.13. ... New York rested C Jorge Posada, 3B Robin Ventura and
LF Rondell White. ... Castillo dropped a foul pop and made a
throwing error trying to throw out Hunter on a steal of second. ...
Steve Karsay struck out four in two scoreless innings of relief.
... Pettitte threw 42 pitches of batting practice in Tampa, Fla.,
and is to throw two innings Tuesday during an extended spring
training game. ... Gardenhire also was tossed April 11 at
Cleveland. ... Spencer made a diving, sliding catch on Cristian
Guzman's liner to left-center in third, and Karsay made a nice
across-the-body-throw to get Mohr at first base with two on in the
eighth.