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Royals tee off on Mussina as Yanks fall

8/7/2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- The struggling Kansas City Royals and rookie
pitcher Runelvys Hernandez figured to be no match for Mike Mussina
and the powerful New York Yankees.

It was a mismatch all right -- only the Royals were the ones who
came out on top.

Raul Ibanez went 4-for-5 with two RBI to end his hitless
stretch at 15 at-bats, and Kansas City pounded Mussina for a
career-worst 14 hits in a 6-2 victory Tuesday night.

''We have nothing to lose, they have everything to lose,''
Royals reliever Jason Grimsley said. ''That's the attitude we have
to have. They have the best lineup, great pitching and a great
ballclub. We're just the Kansas City Royals.''

The Royals won their first meeting with the Yankees this season
after going winless in six games last year. Kansas City had lost
seven straight overall to New York.

Hernandez won for the second time in his career, outpitching
Mussina, who has 177 career wins. Kansas City outhit New York 17-4.

''Mike Mussina is a great pitcher,'' Hernandez said. ''I wanted
to show people who Runelvys Hernandez is.''

Kansas City leadoff hitter Chuck Knoblauch had two hits and
sparked a three-run third inning in his first game back at Yankee
Stadium since leaving New York.

The Royals beat a first-place team for the second straight day.
Kansas City snapped a six-game losing streak with a 12-4 victory at
Minnesota on Monday.

''This ballclub, when we're cold, we're cold. When we're hot, we
hit anything,'' manager Tony Pena said. ''I'm happy to see the bats
come out.''

Mussina (13-6) followed up his worst start of the year -- seven
runs in three innings of a 17-6 loss at Texas -- with another
ineffective outing.

He gave up hits in every inning but the first and left after
allowing five runs in seven innings. That raised his ERA to 4.90,
which would be the highest of his career.

''There's something there that's not working and we have to
figure it out,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said. ''The other thing
is, you know his ego is going to take a hit. Confidence-wise, we
have to make sure he stays positive as best we can.''

Hernandez (2-1), who began the season at Class-A Wilmington,
held New York scoreless into the sixth inning in his fourth career
start.

The Yankees put runners on base in each of the first five
innings but couldn't break through against the 21-year-old rookie
until Raul Mondesi's two-run homer in the sixth cut Kansas City's
lead to 5-2. Hernandez allowed two runs and four hits.

''He did a great job keeping them off-balance,'' Grimsley said.
''They didn't put many good swings on him.''

Knoblauch, who spent the past four seasons with the Yankees,
received a warm ovation from the crowd of 48,275 before his first
at-bat.

''I'm glad the fans reacted the way they did,'' Knoblauch said.
''It was really nice. Winning the game was the best part. Getting a
couple of hits to contribute to a win against the Yankees was
great.''

With one out in the third inning, Knoblauch fisted a single to
shallow right field and Carlos Beltran lined an RBI double into the
right-field corner.

Ibanez followed with an RBI single, Joe Randa singled and
Michael Tucker hit a run-scoring single to make it 4-0.

After Beltran reached on a two-out bunt in the fifth, Ibanez hit
an RBI triple to make it 5-0.

''I can't just go out there and accept what is happening,''
Mussina said. ''I have to question it and try to correct it.''

Ibanez, who came into the game mired in a 9-for-51 slump, scored
Kansas City's first run when he led off the second inning with a
single and scored on Tucker's double.

''I maybe took a week off,'' Ibanez said. ''That's what it felt
like. I haven't been feeling really good. I tried to be easy and
just go up the middle.''

Neifi Perez added an RBI double in the eighth off Sterling
Hitchcock.

Game notes
The Yankees optioned RHP Brandon Knight to Triple-A
Columbus after the game and will activate RHP Roger Clemens from
the 15-day DL to start Wednesday's game. ... There could have been
even more damage against Mussina, but catcher Jorge Posada threw
out three runners trying to steal second. ... After not scoring
more than four runs in 12 straight games, Kansas City has 18 runs
and 34 hits the past two days. ... Mussina's previous high for hits
in a game came with Baltimore. It was 13 on May 19, 1996, against
Seattle.