Rodriguez steals home; Sheffield adds homer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Alex Rodriguez showed all the skills that make
him the best all-around player in baseball.

He and the New York Yankees have even more help on the way, too.

Rodriguez stole home, hit a long homer and made a pair of fine
plays at third base to lead New York past the Baltimore Orioles 6-4

"He can light a game up, there's no question," Yankees manager
Joe Torre said

New York also made a big deal just one minute before baseball's
4 p.m. trade deadline, acquiring All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza
from the Chicago White Sox for enigmatic right-hander Jose
Contreras and $3 million.

General manager Brian Cashman said the Yankees never got close
to a deal for Randy Johnson.

No problem. They sure looked fine with the players they have.

Gary Sheffield hit his 402nd homer and drove in two runs. Javier
Vazquez lasted only 5 1-3 innings on a humid afternoon, but that
was enough to improve to 9-2 in his last 14 starts. He got plenty
of help from the bullpen as four pitchers combined for scoreless
relief the rest of the way.

"They've been doing a great job, always," Vazquez said.
"They're close to being perfect."

New York has won 10 of 12 meetings with the Orioles this season,
and 17 of 22 dating to last year. Jerry Hairston homered for

Rodriguez finished with three hits in an outstanding all-around
effort. He stole home on a double steal in the fourth, helping the
Yankees win for the eighth time in nine home games.

Scott Proctor relieved Vazquez (12-6) and escaped a jam in the
sixth. Paul Quantrill pitched a perfect seventh, Tom Gordon worked
a one-hit eighth and Mariano Rivera got three outs for his major
league-leading 37th save in 40 chances.

Rivera's 320th save tied him with Roberto Hernandez for ninth
place on the career list.

"You've got to get to their starters early," Baltimore's Brian
Roberts said. "When they do get leads, they don't give them

Hairston, making his first career start in center field, hit his
second home run of the season in the third inning.

The Yankees took a 2-1 lead in the fourth with some strong
baserunning. Rodriguez singled and aggressively hustled to third on
Hideki Matsui's bloop single to center with one out.

Matsui took off for second as Ruben Sierra struck out on a 3-2
pitch, then stopped in the middle of the basepath while Rodriguez
broke for home. Javy Lopez's throw to second was wide, and Roberts'
return throw to the plate was low, allowing Rodriguez to slide in

"He was deliberate about throwing to second, so when I saw him
throw, I knew I had it," Rodriguez said.

He popped up and clapped his hands in a cloud of dust. Though it
wasn't a straight steal, Rodriguez became the first Yankee to swipe
home since Derek Jeter on May 5, 2001, at Baltimore.

Tony Clark followed with an RBI single, then New York chased
rookie Erik Bedard (4-6) in the fifth.

Jeter blooped an RBI triple to right -- Karim Garcia had trouble
tracking it down -- and scored on Sheffield's groundout to make it

Rodriguez followed with a mammoth homer to left-center, his 27th
of the season and second in two days. The ball landed in the
Yankees' bullpen, at least 450 feet from home plate.

The Orioles loaded the bases with none out in the sixth, and
Miguel Tejada hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track in
right-center for his 95th RBI. Vazquez was lifted after walking
Lopez on a run-scoring wild pitch, and Garcia lined a sacrifice fly
to right off Proctor.

But Proctor struck out Larry Bigbie with two on to end the
inning, preserving a 5-4 lead.

Sheffield lined a solo shot to left-center off Eddy Rodriguez in
the sixth.

Vazquez allowed four runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings,
improving to 3-0 in three starts against Baltimore this season.

Bedard has lost four of his last five starts.

"He's got to get deeper in the game. He was behind a lot of
hitters all along. It was a tough day to pitch, it was hot out
there," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Game notes
The Yankees recalled OF Bubba Crosby from Triple-A Columbus
to replace first baseman Jason Giambi, receiving treatment for a
benign tumor. Giambi was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday
night, retroactive to July 24. Cashman said the Yankees are close
to signing former AL batting champion John Olerud, released by
Seattle on July 23. ... Jeter has gone 40 straight games without
making an error at shortstop, the longest streak of his career. ...
Orioles 1B Rafael Palmeiro, hitless in his previous four games,
pinch-hit in the ninth and grounded out.