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Giambi reaches 20-HR mark eighth straight season

6/26/2003

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Dan Miceli didn't get into town
until 3 a.m. Karim Garcia barely got to the ballpark in time to
play.

As far as the New York Yankees were concerned Thursday, the
timing of their arrivals couldn't have been better.

Miceli and Garcia both contributed to a 4-3 victory over the
Tampa Bay Devil Rays, enabling the Yankees to maintain their
two-game lead over Boston in the AL East.

"This is like a dream come true for me. Coming to a team like
this, in first place right now," said Garcia, who was obtained
along with Miceli from Cleveland in a trade Wednesday that
bolstered New York's bullpen.

Garcia didn't arrive at Tropicana Field until about 90 minutes
before the game and started in left field. He went 1-for-3,
singling in the seventh before Raul Mondesi snapped a 2-2 tie with
a two-run homer off Jason Standridge (0-3).

"As soon as I stepped foot in Tampa Bay, they told me: `OK,
hurry up because you're going to be playing today," Garcia said.

Miceli's debut was even more impressive.

The reliever replaced Mike Mussina (10-4) with the tying runs on
base with one out in the bottom of the eighth. He got out of the
jam by getting Rocco Baldelli to fly out and Aubrey Huff to ground
back to the mound.

"I introduced myself after the game was over," Mussina said.
"I told him: `That's pretty good pitching."

Definitely not bad for a guy who didn't get a good night's sleep
before the afternoon game.

"I'm kind of struggling right now, but that's part of the
game," Miceli said.

"Everybody has a little nervousness. You've got to keep sharp,
in focus and keep making pitches."

Jason Giambi also hit a two-run homer for New York, giving him
20 or more home runs in eight consecutive seasons. The Yankees have
11 of 13 since being no-hit by the Houston Astros on June 11 and
improved the league's second-best road record to 27-13.

Mussina allowed two runs and eight hits, struck out five and
walked none in 7 1-3 innings.

Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his 12th save in 13 chances.
The Devil Rays put runners on second and third with no outs, but
managed only one run on pinch-hitter Al Martin's groundout.

The game ended with Ben Grieve taking a third called strike with
a runner on third, then a scolding from Devil Rays manager Lou
Piniella.

Piniella said he asked the easygoing Grieve about the last pitch
and didn't like the player's response.

"He says, `I thought it was high.' I said, 'Why didn't you say
something?' He said it doesn't matter. I said, 'What the hell do
you mean it doesn't matter?' It matters to me and it matters to
everybody else," Piniella said, his voice rising.

"Look, Rivera is a tough pitcher. I'm not expecting anything.
I'm expecting if you think the ball is high, you tell the umpire
it's high instead of walking off to the damn dugout. ... It does
matter. It matters to me, and it matters to a lot of damn people in
this clubhouse. When it starts mattering to everybody, we'll start
winning more games around here."

Grieve said he was taking Piniella's harsh words "in stride."

"I think it's the frustration boiling over. I'm not going into
everything he said," Grieve said. "I don't think it was because I
struck out."

Giambi's homer off Standridge gave New York a 2-0 lead in the
first. The Devil Rays countered with two runs off Mussina in the
second.

Streaking Damian Rolls drove in one of the runs when he doubled
in the gap in left-center and Javier Valentin followed with a
triple to the right-field corner to make it 2-all.

Rolls went into the four-game series with just two homers in his
first 392 major league at-bats and wound up going 7-for-14 with
three homers and seven RBI. He's driven in 10 runs all season.

Standridge settled in after giving up Giambi's homer to limit
the Yankees to two singles over the next five innings. His bid for
his first for his first major league win stalled in the seventh
when he gave up a one-out single to Garcia and Mondesi followed
with his 14th homer.

Garcia started in left field and went 1-for-3.

Plate umpire Kerwin Danley aggravated a right shoulder injury
and left the game in the fourth inning.

Game notes
Mussina is 10-3 lifetime against Tampa Bay. ... Giambi has
reached base safely in 32 consecutive games, seven shy of the
career-high 39-game streak he had in 1998. ... Yankees 2B Alfonso
Soriano had the day off. He had started the team's first 76 games
at second base. He was replaced by Enrique Wilson. ... The
last-place Devil Rays are 4-19 in June. The team record for most
losses in a month is 20 on three different occasions, most recently
in May 2001. ... Yankees SS Derek Jeter turned 29 Thursday. ... The
Devil Rays designated LHP Mike Venafro for assignment and brought
up RHP Carlos Reyes.