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Jeter's hitless streak now 32 ABs

4/29/2004

NEW YORK (AP) -- At least one Yankees player broke out of his
slump.

Jose Contreras earned his first win of the season, Jorge Posada
and Jason Giambi homered, and New York sent the Oakland Athletics
to their fifth consecutive loss with a 5-1 victory Wednesday night.

Derek Jeter's hitless skid reached 32 at-bats, but his teammates
did more than enough to beat Mark Mulder.

"Pitchers aren't going to feel sorry for you. You've just got
to go out and keep swinging," Jeter said. "It's a funny game
sometimes. You just try to help the team in other ways."

Jeter did just that, making a slick pickup of pitcher Tom
Gordon's poor throw and turning a tough double play to end the
eighth.

Giambi and Gary Sheffield each had an RBI single in a three-run
first inning, helping the Yankees win their second game in a row
since losing four straight.

After beginning the year with three bad starts, Contreras
pitched six effective innings, allowing only Bobby Crosby's home
run in the third.

"Today I felt a lot more comfortable. I had a good fastball and
my pitches were right where I wanted them," Contreras said through
a translator. "This start helps me to erase a lot of those
memories. It gives me something to build on."

But while Contreras (1-2) turned it around, Jeter didn't.

Even with the crowd of 44,325 cheering and chanting his name
during every plate appearance, Jeter went 0-for-4 with a walk. He
grounded out with the bases loaded to end the eighth, dropping his
batting average to .161.

It's the longest slump by a Yankees player since Jimmy Wynn also
went 32 at-bats without a hit in 1977.

"The fans have been great, cheering for me, standing up, trying
to will me to get a hit," Jeter said. "I've been thinking all
right in the box. Afterwards, sometimes you start
second-guessing."

The last major league position player with a longer slump was
Mets utilityman Joe McEwing, who went 0-for-33 in 2002, according
to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Contreras gave up four hits and struck out four, lowering his
ERA from 10.64 to 7.41.

"If you ask me, I think he's got great stuff," Oakland's Eric
Chavez said. "He's effectively wild. I had no game plan. I'd never
faced him before."

Paul Quantrill pitched the seventh, and Gordon got six outs for
his first save with the Yankees.

New York jumped ahead 3-0 in the first when five consecutive
batters reached safely against Mulder (2-2).

He walked Hideki Matsui, who scored on Giambi's single, and
Sheffield drove in a run with an infield single. Ruben Sierra
nearly broke it open, but his bases-loaded drive to the
center-field fence was caught for a sacrifice fly.

"In the first inning, I just wasn't throwing good fastballs,"
Mulder said. "I wasn't hitting my spots. I felt I had good
stuff."

Crosby homered leading off the third, his first at-bat after
missing six games with a bruised left knee.

That's when Posada went to the mound with some encouraging words
for Contreras.

"I didn't want him to lose focus. Right now, he's not 100
percent mentally. I was proud of the way he responded," Posada
said. "You just can't let that guy die out there. You just can't
let him give up, and he didn't."

Posada hit his eighth homer on a 2-0 pitch in the bottom half.
Giambi connected against Arthur Rhodes leading off the eighth, his
fourth of the year.

Mulder allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings, striking
out six.

Game notes
Yankees 1B Travis Lee will have his sore left shoulder
re-evaluated by Dr. James Andrews on Thursday. ... Mulder is 0-4
with a 9.97 ERA in four regular-season starts at Yankee Stadium,
but he's 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in two playoff starts in the Bronx. He
went 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in two home starts against the Yankees
last year. ... It's the longest losing streak for the A's since
they dropped six in a row last April. Jeter went hitless in 18
straight at-bats in 1997 and '99, previously the worst slumps of
his career. ... Giambi saved at least one run with a fully
extended, diving grab of Chavez's two-out liner in the third. ...
Yankees CF Bernie Williams didn't start after tweaking his left
knee Tuesday night. He expects to play Thursday. ... The Yankees
and Devil Rays will make up an April 13 rainout as part of a
doubleheader on Sept. 6.