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Yankees split twinbill, then clinch top seed

9/27/2003

NEW YORK (AP) -- Yankees rookie Jorge De Paula was not going to
pitch a no-hitter Friday night. Manager Joe Torre wouldn't have
allowed it.

De Paula took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning in his first
major league start, but New York was denied its 100th win as
Baltimore rallied for a 3-2 victory in 10 innings Friday night and
a doubleheader split.

Jorge Posada hit his 30th homer to tie Yogi Berra's club record
for a catcher as the Yankees won the first game 11-2.

New York clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason
when Oakland lost 9-3 to Seattle on Friday night.

The Yankees were looking for a doubleheader sweep, but their
bullpen couldn't hold a 2-0 lead after De Paula left.

"I told (pitching coach) Mel (Stottlemyre) I've taken two guys
out with no-hitters twice before, and this is going to be the
third," said Torre, who did it before with David Cone and Tommy
Boggs. "His health is more important than anything else. You don't
want to push an arm like that to a dangerous length."

Larry Bigbie broke up De Paula's bid with a one-out single in
the seventh, Jerry Hairston tied the game with a two-run triple in
the eighth, and rookie Robert Machado had a one-out single in the
10th off Chris Hammond (3-2) for the go-ahead run.

De Paula received a standing ovation from the crowd and a pat on
the head from manager Torre as he left the game. Bigbie's bouncer
off an outside sinker ticked off the tip of De Paula's glove and
went cleanly into center field to ruin his chance of becoming the
first pitcher in more than 50 years to throw a no-hitter in his
first career start.

The only player in modern major league history to do it was Bobo
Holloman of the St. Louis Browns in 1953.

"I always dreamed of a situation like this, not that I thought
I would take a no-hitter into the seventh," the 24-year-old
Dominican right-hander said through a translator.

The Yankees put runners on first and second with none out in the
ninth, but couldn't score against Kerry Ligtenberg (4-2). Jorge Julio worked the 10th for his career-high 36th save.

In the first game, Posada thrust his fists in the air as his
home run cleared the wall in right-center field, knowing the homer
not only tied Berra but also gave him a career-high 101 RBI.
Posada had 99 RBI in 2002 and 95 the previous season.

Berra set the homer mark in 1952 and matched it 1956.

"Yogi has been a mentor. He's been more than a friend," Posada
said. "To be right next to him, it's kind of neat. I'm more than
honored."

Alfonso Soriano, Juan Rivera and Aaron Boone also homered for
the Yankees against Orioles starter Damian Moss (1-5), who hit two
batters and gave up three homers in the third inning alone.

The run support made things easy for Andy Pettitte (21-8), who
tied his career high for victories set in 1996. Pettitte allowed
six hits and an unearned run in five innings while winning for the
17th time in his last 20 decisions. It was his fourth straight
victory.

"It would have been nice to go a few more innings," said
Pettitte, who threw 89 pitches -- 66 strikes. "It was a good start,
it felt good, and obviously the guys scored a lot of runs."

Boone also had a two-run double and an RBI single.

Soriano's homer, his 37th of the season, was the most prodigious
of the Yankees' five home runs in the two games. The ball easily
cleared the 399-foot sign in left-center field, landing at the base
of the monument park. Soriano is two homers shy of his career high
set last season.

Torre went with a second-string lineup in the second game, using
old-timers Luis Sojo and Sierra along with youngsters De Paula,
Michel Hernandez, Drew Henson, Fernando Seguignol and Erick
Almonte. Designated hitter Jason Giambi was the only New York
regular in the starting lineup.

Mariano Rivera worked the ninth inning of the nightcap, striking
out two. He has not been scored upon in his last 14 appearances.

Game notes
Yankees SS Derek Jeter has been hit by a pitch a
career-high 13 times. ... The Yankees have 227 home runs,
second-most in team history behind the 240 hit by the 1961 club.
... Yankees reserve OF David Dellucci, sidelined for almost a
month, tested his sprained left ankle in pregame drills and said it
held up well, meaning there is a possibility the Yankees will
activate him this weekend to give him a pre-playoff test. ... The
first game was the makeup of last Thursday's 1-1 game in Baltimore
that was called after five innings because of Hurricane Isabel. ...
Jay Gibbons of the Orioles became the 15th player in team history
to reach 100 RBI.