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Yankees sweep Oakland's big three

4/30/2004

NEW YORK (AP) -- Derek Jeter jumped on Barry Zito's first pitch
of the game and sent it flying deep to left-center field when a
disturbing thought suddenly entered his mind.

"I thought, 'Don't catch it!" Jeter said. "I thought a bird
would hit it or something and someone would catch it."

But this ball was out of everyone's reach as the Yankees
shortstop broke out of an 0-for-32 slump with a leadoff home run
and helped New York complete a three-game sweep of the Oakland
Athletics with a 7-5 victory Thursday night.

"A streak like that, you wouldn't want to wish on anyone, even
other teams," Jeter said. "Guys on other teams even have been
giving me support."

Jeter started what turned out to be an impressive power display
against Zito, who gave up a career-high four home runs. Miguel
Cairo hit a tiebreaking three-run homer, and Bernie Williams and
Alex Rodriguez also went deep as the Yankees won their third
straight.

"We're looking more like ourselves now -- more relaxed,"
manager Joe Torre said.

The A's went winless at Yankee Stadium despite starting aces Tim
Hudson, Mark Mulder and Zito, and have lost six in a row.

"I had sharpness, and the curveball was good and the changeup
was good," Zito said. "I think it was just that they didn't miss
anything."

And Jeter certainly didn't miss the former Cy Young winner's
first pitch.

Jeter drove his first homer of the season well over the
left-center field fence and into Monument Park for his first hit
since an infield single against the Chicago White Sox on April 20.

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

"You can't help but think about it," Jeter said. "That's all
you hear about all the time."

Jeter, who finished 1-for-4, pumped his fist slightly after he
rounded first base, and the Yankee Stadium crowd of 35,651, which
stood and cheered as Jeter came up, chanted "Jeter! Jeter!" as he
crossed the plate. His teammates greeted him at the top of the
dugout and high-fived the star shortstop, who came out for a
curtain call.

"When Derek came in after the homer, he kind of headbutted me
in the chest," Torre said. "It was a big relief of all the
pressure."

The homer cut New York's deficit to 2-1 after Eric Chavez hit a
two-run homer in the top of the first.

With the game tied at 3 in the sixth, Cairo hit his first homer
as a member of the Yankees -- a shot into the left-field seats. Gary
Sheffield hit a leadoff single and Hideki Matsui singled one out
later. After Ruben Sierra struck out, Cairo homered to give the
Yankees a 6-3 lead, and came out for a curtain call.

"Yankee Stadium -- that was the best, man," Cairo said. "It
was just amazing."

The A's made it 6-4 in the seventh on Damian Miller's RBI
grounder. Oakland got another run in the eighth when Jermaine Dye
hit a one-out single off Tom Gordon that scored Billy McMillon, who
doubled.

Mariano Rivera came on in relief of Gordon with two outs and
runners on first and third and got Bobby Crosby to ground out to
second. Rivera earned his seventh save in as many chances.

The Yankees added an insurance run in the eighth on Bubba
Crosby's RBI infield single.

Kevin Brown (4-0) allowed four runs and seven hits in six
innings to stay unbeaten with the Yankees. He struck out five and
walked none to start 4-0 for the first time since 1990, when he was
with Texas.

"I battled and the offense battled and we kept putting pressure
on them," Brown said. "I think it's just something that
everyone's been expecting."

Zito (2-3) allowed six runs and eight hits in six innings and
struck out nine, but was done in by the four homers. He had never
allowed more than two in a game.

"It was a strange game," A's manager Ken Macha said. "They've
got a powerful lineup, but (Zito) had the putaway pitch working,
which is why he got all those strikeouts in six innings."

With the Yankees trailing 2-1, Rodriguez tied it in the third
with a solo homer, his fourth of the season.

Williams, the designated hitter a day after sitting with a
slightly sprained left knee, gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the
fifth with his first homer.

Oakland tied it at 3 in the sixth on Dye's RBI double.

Game notes
If Jeter had made another out and dropped to 0-for-33, it
would've been the longest slump for a Yankees player since pitcher
Fritz Peterson went 0-for-35 in 1969, the Elias Sports Bureau said.
... The A's six-game losing streak is their longest since losing
six straight last April.