<
>

Giambi's homer in first enough cushion

4/15/2004

NEW YORK (AP) -- Well on the way to his 200th career victory,
tough guy Kevin Brown got a bit misty.

Blame it on the weather, rather than emotion.

Working on a dreary, drizzly afternoon, Brown reached the
milestone a game after fellow Yankees ace Mike Mussina and once
again led New York over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 5-1 Wednesday.

"The mound was definitely slick. It was tough keeping your
spikes," Brown said.

Still, the setting made it special as Brown became the 101st
pitcher in major league history to win No. 200. Brown and Mussina
are the first teammates to accomplish the feat in the same season.

"It's great to be here and get it here," Brown said. "It was
a wonderful atmosphere, a great backdrop for it to happen."

Brown kept the final ball as a souvenir, but said he wasn't much
of a numbers person.

"Honestly, I really haven't thought too much about it," he
said. "It seems like we've been bouncing all over the world the
last month and a half. I've been busy getting unpacked and moved
in."

Brown beat the Devil Rays for the third time this season,
defeating them at the Tokyo Dome, Tropicana Field and Yankee
Stadium. In all three outings, he gave up one run in seven innings.

Brown was the first pitcher to make his first three starts for
the Yankees against the same team since Tom Morgan in 1951,
according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Pitching in short sleeves and often cleaning his muddy cleats,
Brown gave up five hits. He also issued his first walk of the
season after going 15 innings without one.

Yankees manager Joe Torre managed to draw a quick smile from
Brown during a late trip to the mound. Brown was getting on himself
and Torre told him he was more than OK.

"He's never really happy with himself," Torre said.

Brown (3-0) is 200-131 in a career that started in 1986 with
Texas. The 39-year-old righty also played for Baltimore, Florida,
San Diego and Los Angeles before an offseason trade that sent Jeff
Weaver to the Dodgers.

Mussina beat the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, making it to 200
on his fifth try. The Yankees were off Monday and rained out
Tuesday.

In last year's regular-season finale, New York's David Wells
posted his 200th victory.

As for a reason he and Brown both made it this year, Mussina
said, "That's because we're all old."

"A lot of pitchers have come and gone and not won 200 games or
gotten close," said Mussina, 35. "I know what it means to him and
what it meant to me."

Jason Giambi hit a three-run homer off Mark Hendrickson (0-1) in
the first inning. Brown protected the early lead, with his sinker
helping produce three double plays.

"He keeps getting out when he needs them," Tampa Bay's Tino
Martinez said. "We just couldn't seem to break through with men on
base. We had our chances."

As the mist turned to light rain in the middle innings, the
dampened crowd turned its attention to this weekend. Fans started
an anti-Red Sox chant because after an off-day, the Yankees begin a
much-balleyhooed series against Boston at Fenway Park.

"I don't think you can surpass last year's enthusiasm," Torre
said. "Maybe I'm underplaying it a bit. It's too early to let
yourself get sky high."

Giambi launched a shot into the third deck in right field after
singles by Bernie Williams and Alex Rodriguez. Giambi had been
0-for-11 on the homestand prior to his second homer of the year.

Derek Jeter and Gary Sheffield doubled in the third. Jorge
Posada hit his fourth homer in the sixth.

Carl Crawford singled home the Devil Rays' run in the third.
Tampa Bay played its first road game of the season and dropped to
4-4, dented by those three losses to Brown.

Game notes
Jim Calhoun, coach of the NCAA champion Connecticut men's basketball team and a lifelong Red Sox fan, rejected the Yankees' invitation to throw out the first pitch at an upcoming game, according to a Hartford Courant report. "No chance. Sixty years of torment is enough," Calhoun, a Massachusetts native, said. However, Calhoun will throw out the first pitch before Monday's Yankees-Red Sox game at Fenway Park. ... Rodriguez went 2-for-4 for his first multihit game with the
Yankees. ... Crawford was caught stealing on a pitchout after his
RBI single. He had been 6-for-6 in steal attempts this year, and
led the AL with 55 swipes last season. ... Former Yankees bench
coach Don Zimmer, now a senior adviser for the Devil Rays, watched
from the stands. Zimmer left New York in the offseason because of a
feud with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. "I made no mistake
doing what I've done," Zimmer said. "I can live with it and I am
living with it." ... Tampa Bay's Jose Cruz Jr. reached base safely
for the 28th straight game, the longest active streak in the
majors. ... Yankees CF Kenny Lofton has not played since Friday
because of tightness in his right quadriceps. He tested it before
the game, and Torre hopes Lofton can play by the weekend.