<
>

Yankees score 6 in eighth, end skid

NEW YORK (AP) -- Even Ruben Sierra figured his shot would go
foul.

Yet in a twist of the Yankees' fortune, Sierra's drive smacked
down squarely on the left-field line for a pinch-hit double,
highlighting a six-run rally in the eighth inning that sent
slumping New York over the Oakland Athletics 10-8 Tuesday night.

"For a minute, I thought the ball was going to hook outside,"
Sierra said. "I saw the ball was turning to the line."

Sierra paused for a moment to watch, then took off after chalk
kicked up near the corner. The go-ahead, two-run hit came after a
sloppy, frustrating game in which most everything seemed go against
the Yankees.

Trailing 8-4 and in danger of their fifth straight defeat, the
defending AL champions suddenly broke loose and handed Oakland its
fourth loss in a row.

Yankees starter Mike Mussina failed to hold an early lead and
was looking at a clubhouse television when the comeback began with
a couple of soft singles and a pair of walks. He still wasn't sure
when the ball left Sierra's bat.

"Before that, it would've been a foot foul, the way we were
going," he said.

Bernie Williams started the rally with a single that ended his
0-for-13 rut and capped it with an RBI grounder. Sierra, batting
for Miguel Cairo, put the Yankees ahead 9-8 with his bases-loaded
double off Ricardo Rincon that somehow stayed fair.

A crowd of 33,191 that had booed Derek Jeter -- he was hitless in
three at-bats, extending his career-worst slump to 0-for-28 --
cheered wildly when Sierra came through.

"Hopefully, it does relax them," manager Joe Torre said. "It
was a good way to win, coming back late with a lot of people
contributing."

Donovan Osborne (1-0) got one out for the victory. Jim Mecir
(0-2) took over for Tim Hudson after seven innings and let the
first five batters reach safely.

"We had a bit of a meltdown there in the bullpen," Athletics
manager Ken Macha said. "Four-run lead in the eighth, figure you
close it out. It's one that you like to think you had."

Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his sixth save in six
chances. He made his 523rd appearance, breaking a tie with Dave
Righetti for the most by a Yankees pitcher.

Rivera was idly standing by when the Yankees erupted.

"I was relaxing. It was looking bad in the eighth," he said.
"The record, it is what it is. It's nice. But the important thing
is that we won."

Until they rallied, it had been a poor performance by Mussina
and the Yankees. Mussina nearly became the first Yankees pitcher to
have five losses by the end of April since Stan Bahnsen in 1969.

Eric Chavez homered and Marco Scutaro got a career-high three
hits and drove in two runs for Oakland.

The Athletics broke the 4-all tie with an unearned run in the
sixth. Tony Clark, getting a rare start at first base, fumbled
Erubiel Durazo's leadoff grounder for an error. Frank Menechino hit
an RBI single on Mussina's 100th pitch.

Durazo and Scutaro had RBI doubles in the seventh for a 7-4
lead. Scott Hatteberg's infield single in the eighth made it 8-4.

Then in the bottom half, Williams and Alex Rodriguez singled and
Jason Giambi walked to load the bases with no outs. Gary Sheffield,
who earlier dropped a liner to right for an error that set up an
unearned run, and Jorge Posada hit RBI singles that pulled New York
to 8-6.

"I really can't say I'm too upset about any of them," Mecir
said. "I don't think I pitched especially bad."

Rincon relieved and walked Hideki Matsui with the bases loaded.
After Clark struck out, Sierra -- hitting only .194 -- doubled.

"They've got a lineup full of Hall of Famers," Hudson said.
"It's not easy."

Chavez hit his fourth homer, putting the Athletics ahead 1-0 in
the third. The Yankees struck back for four runs in the bottom
half.

Cairo blooped a two-run single, Rodriguez drove in another run
with a groundout and Giambi hit an RBI single.

But Mussina gave it right back. Scutaro singled in the first run
with a slow roller that Mussina couldn't quite corral, prompting
the six-time Gold Glove winner to tap the turf with his bare hand.
Menechino drove in a run with a grounder and Mark Kotsay made it
4-all with an RBI single.

Game notes
Jeter's slump is the longest for a Yankees player since
Tino Martinez also was hitless in 28 at-bats in 2000. .... SS
Scutaro hurt his left hand chasing Rodriguez's single. He stayed in
the game, but his status for Wednesday night was uncertain.