Final in 14

Series: Game 2 of 3

New York leads 2-0 (as of 8/14)

Game 1: Tuesday, August 13
New York 10Final
Kansas City 5
Game 2: Wednesday, August 14
New York 3Final
in 14
Kansas City 2
Game 3: Thursday, August 15
New York 7Final
Kansas City 5

Yankees 3

(74-44, 38-24 away)

Royals 2

(48-72, 32-28 home)

    8:05 PM ET, August 14, 2002

    Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri 

    4567891011121314 R H E
    NYY 00010000001 3 - -
    KC 00200000000 2 - -

    W: R. Mendoza (8-3)

    L: B. Stein (0-3)

    S: M. Rivera (26)

    Sweeney's steal of home gives Royals brief lead

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The New York Yankees took a little longer than they wanted to reach a goal set by manager Joe Torre.

    Mike Sweeney

    Bernie Williams

    Bernie Williams hit an RBI single in the 14th inning as New York overcame Mike Sweeney's straight steal of home to beat the Kansas City Royals 3-2 Wednesday night and move a season-high 30 games over .500.

    "It puts up with the elite, 30-plus,'' Torre said. "Being 30 games over .500 is in rarified air. It is one of those stepping stones, you need to add to a pennant race. You look up and see Boston kicking Seattle.''

    The Yankees maintained a five-game lead over the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.

    Alfonso Soriano singled with one out in the 14th off Blake Stein (0-3) and moved to third on Jason Giambi's two-out single. Williams followed with a single to right field as the Yankees won for the 16th time in their final at-bat.

    Yankees pursuing soon-to-be
    free agent slugger Matsui?
    TOKYO -- Yankees assistant general manager Jean Afterman was in attendance at Tokyo Dome Wednesday night watching Yomiuri Giants power hitter Hideki Matsui, who hit a mammoth home run in his team's loss.

    Japan's sports newspapers were awash with speculation Thursday about the potential transfer of Matsui, an outfielder, to the Yankees.

    "Yankee assistant GM Afterman checks out Matsui homer," read a headline in the Sankei Sports daily. Afterman watched the game from a private box and was not available for comment.

    Matsui, who will become a free agent at the end of this season, belted a 511-foot homer into the right-field bleachers in the fourth inning of a 10-7 loss to the Yakult Swallows.

    The 28-year-old outfielder, who turned down a multiyear deal with Japan's most popular team last December, leads the Central League with 31 homers.

    While Matsui has refused to comment on his future plans, many in Japanese baseball speculate that his decision to sign a one-year contract with the Giants is an indication of his desire to follow in the major-league footsteps of Ichiro Suzuki and Tsuyoshi Shinjo.

    The Yankees and the Giants are reportedly discussing a cooperative agreement after the AL team terminated a similar arrangement with the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters in June.
    -- Associated Press

    "You've got to be able to lean on your teammates, but sometimes you've got to tell yourself if the opportunity comes to be the one to put an end to do it,'' Williams said. "The opportunity came with two outs with me and I was able to do it.''

    Ramiro Mendoza (8-3) allowed one hit in three innings for the win and Mariano Rivera got three outs for his 26th save in 30 opportunities.

    Sweeney, known more his bat than his speed, had the most exciting play of the game when he stole home with two outs in the sixth to give the Royals a 2-1 lead.

    "I thought he would run if the ball was in the dirt,'' Royals manager Tony Pena said. "When I saw him coming, I said, 'Oh my, God.'''

    Carlos Beltran and Sweeney led off the sixth with doubles off Andy Pettitte to tie the score at 1. Joe Randa's sacrifice bunt moved Sweeney to third.

    With two outs and a 1-2 count on lefty Aaron Guiel, Sweeney surprised the left-handed Pettitte, who was holding the ball on the mound, by taking off and sliding in ahead of the throw home.

    "I don't think speed is part of my game, but deception,'' Sweeney said.

    It was only Sweeney's fifth steal of the season and 35th of his career. He became the fifth Royal to have a straight steal of home and first since Freddie Patek on June 18, 1977, against Minnesota. The only other Kansas City players to do it were George Brett, Amos Otis and Dave Nelson.

    "I'm sure the last guy on the list was faster than me,'' Sweeney said.

    It was the second time this season the Yankees have allowed a straight steal of home. The Mets' Roger Cedeno did it against Ted Lilly on June 29.

    "I'm glad it didn't cost us the game,'' Torre said.

    The Yankees took advantage of shortstop Neifi Perez's 15th error to tie the score in the seventh. With one out, Raul Mondesi singled and Rondell White hit a grounder to Perez, who bounced a throw past Kit Pellow at first base. Mondesi went to third on the throwing error and scored on Shane Spencer's sacrifice fly.

    Royals starter Paul Byrd, going for his 15th victory, held the Yankees to one earned run over nine innings to lower his ERA to 3.45. Byrd allowed eight hits and no walks.

    Pettitte, who had won his previous three starts, allowed two runs and seven hits in eight innings.

    Mike Stanton, Steve Karsay, Mendoza and Rivera combined on six scoreless innings of relief.

    Giambi hit his 29th homer in the first inning to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

    "That was not really a mistake,'' Byrd said. "That pitch was where I wanted it. I jammed him a little. It didn't make a good sound. It's a credit to him, how strong he is.''

    Kansas City had baserunners in each of the first four innings but couldn't score against Pettitte.

    Game notes

    White is in a 0-for-27 slump, the longest drought of his career. White went 0-for-5 and stranded five runners, three in scoring position ... The Yankees lead the majors with 178 home runs. ... The Royals top the AL with 113 stolen bases. ... Guiel went 0-for-6 to snap his career-best nine-game hitting streak. ... The Royals have committed 100 errors, which is second highest in the league.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press