SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The New York Yankees have been in first place
enough to know that it doesn't mean much until October.
Rondell White homered, and the Yankees scratched out a run in
the ninth inning to beat the San Diego Padres 3-2 Sunday and take
over sole possession of the AL East lead for the first time since
April 14. "It's nice to be in first place, but again, we are only in
June,'' New York manager Joe Torre said. Bernie Williams' bases-loaded groundout knocked in the go-ahead
run, and Steve Karsay closed it out with a perfect inning for his
third save. "I was just trying to make contact and put the ball in play
hard,'' Williams said. "It was pretty tough to hit the ball with
that shadow out there.'' Pinch-hitter Enrique Wilson drew a leadoff walk from Steve Reed
(1-3) in the ninth. After Alfonso Soriano struck out, Derek Jeter
singled to move Wilson to second. Padres closer Trevor Hoffman relieved and walked Nick Johnson to
load the bases. Williams followed with a weak grounder to first
baseman Kevin Barker, who looked home but decided he had no play on
Wilson and took the out at first. "It's the winning run. If I had to do it over again, maybe I
throw home,'' Barker said. "But talking to the guys watching, they
said he was already sliding.'' Ramiro Mendoza (5-2) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the
victory. The Yankees took a 2-0 lead in the seventh. White hit a one-out
solo homer off San Diego starter Brian Lawrence. Mike Mussina, who
had his second career multihit game, singled to right field and
went to second on an error by Gene Kingsale. Soriano followed with an infield single, and Jeter drove in
Mussina with a single to left. The Padres rallied for two runs in the bottom half to tie it at
2. Ramon Vazquez had a leadoff walk, and Wiki Gonzalez was hit by a
pitch from Mussina with one out. Mike Stanton replaced Mussina and induced pinch-hitter Ron Gant
into a check-swing grounder back to the mound. It appeared that
Stanton had a play at third, but he took the safe out at first. Mendoza came in with two outs and runners on second and third to
face Deivi Cruz, who hit an 0-1 curveball up the middle for a
two-run single. Mark Kotsay followed with a double to center that dropped in
front of a sliding Williams. Ray Lankford was intentionally walked,
and Barker grounded out to first to end the inning. "We played them tough,'' Padres manager Bruce Bochy said.
"That's another hard one to lose.'' A crowd of 50,050 saw Mussina throw 6 1-3 strong innings, giving
up four hits and striking out seven. Lawrence also pitched an effective 6 1/3 innings, giving up two
runs on eight hits. The Yankees had a scoring opportunity cut down in the fifth.
Mussina hit a one-out single to center, and Soriano followed with a
double to center. The ball one-hopped to the fence, where Kotsay fielded it and
relayed to second baseman Vazquez, who made a perfect throw to
catcher Tom Lampkin, who tagged out Mussina. "Running the bases, especially at full speed, takes quite a bit
out of you,'' Mussina said. "That was a long way to run. I haven't
gone first to home in a long time. Hopefully, I won't have to do it
again any time soon.'' Torre was worried as he watched Mussina run around the bases.
"Don't get hurt. Don't get hurt,'' Torre said. "That's more
important than scoring the run.''
Yankees manager Joe Torre said he expects a better
performance from Andy Pettitte in Tuesday's start against
Baltimore. In Pettitte's outing at Colorado last Wednesday, his
second start since coming off the disabled list, he gave up eight
runs in 3 2/3 innings. "In Colorado, he turned into a thrower. He
stopped pitching and just started raring back and throwing,'' Torre
said. ... The Padres set a club attendance record for a three-game
series Qualcomm Stadium, with 165,929 fans showing up for the
Yankees series. ... LHP Eric Cyr made his major league debut, the
eighth Padres pitcher to make his big league debut this season. ...
Williams went 0-for-5, ending his 11-game hitting streak. ...
Vazquez was 0-for-2, snapping his nine-game hitting streak.