Sierra's sacrifice fly lifts Yankees

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Even with all their experience, all their
stars and all their accomplishments, the New York Yankees were in
need of some confidence with their losing streak at six.

They got the boost they needed, perhaps putting George
Steinbrenner at ease for a bit.

Ruben Sierra's sacrifice fly in the 10th inning sent the Yankees
past the Minnesota Twins 4-3 on Saturday night, relieving some
tension in a clubhouse that was admittedly on edge.

"We've got a lot of games to go, and we don't have to get
pressure," Sierra said. "We just have to play hard and let it

Joe Nathan (1-2) walked Hideki Matsui with one out, and Alex
Rodriguez singled him to third -- when Matsui barely beat a strong
throw from center fielder Torii Hunter.

Sierra, who struck out with the bases loaded as a pinch-hitter
in the eighth, smacked a fly to deep center field -- where Hunter
caught it but had no other play.

Tom Gordon (1-3) threw two scoreless innings for the victory.
Mariano Rivera, who has not allowed a run in his last 11
appearances, picked up his 13th save in 15 opportunities with a
perfect 10th -- his first save since May 27.

That was the last time New York scored more than three runs. It
was also the date of its last win.

"It don't matter to me about the save," Rivera said. "We want
to win."

With a crowd of 45,553 cheering against them -- the
second-largest at the Metrodome this season -- the Yankees (28-27)
climbed back from an early 3-0 hole and improved to 2-24 when
trailing after seven innings.

Steinbrenner, the team's notoriously impatient owner, put the
pressure on this weekend for a turnaround, holding a conference
call with manager Joe Torre and general manager Brian Cashman and
stressing that this $200 million club is letting down New York's
devoted fans.

But Taiwanese rookie starter Chien-Ming Wang gave the Yankees
seven solid innings, giving them a chance for the late rally.

"Every game is important," Wang said. "I just try to think
about not losing and not giving up runs."

Jacque Jones hit a three-run homer for the Twins, whose
three-game winning streak ended. They let New York tie the game at
3 with a sloppy eighth, wasting a fine outing by starter Joe Mays.

Rookie Robinson Cano, who hit a two-run double in the fifth,
scored on a bases-loaded groundout by Matsui after lefty J.C.
Romero relieved Mays.

Rodriguez was intentionally walked, right-hander Juan Rincon
replaced Romero and Sierra pinch-hit for Jason Giambi.

It was Sierra who hit the three-run homer in the eighth off
Rincon in Game 4 of last year's first-round playoff series, sending
it to extra innings and spurring the Yankees on to the AL
championship series.

This time, Sierra -- now 3-for-23 batting left-handed this season
-- struck out on a pitch above his neck and off the plate.

But the Minnesota had already done itself in. Second baseman
Brent Abernathy dropped a throw for an error, instead of securing a
sure out. First baseman Terry Tiffee, who fielded Matsui's
grounder, stepped on the bag before throwing home, erasing the
force play and allowing Cano to slide in safely.

"Missed a couple of plays, and it seems like it comes back and
costs you every time," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We gave away
Joe's ballgame."

With a pair of All-Stars out of the lineup -- captain and
shortstop Derek Jeter rested because of a bad cold and catcher
Jorge Posada got a scheduled day off until he entered as a
pinch-hitter in the ninth -- the Yankees again had trouble getting

Mays held them hitless until the fifth, when Rodriguez beat out
a grounder that shortstop Juan Castro fielded deep in the hole.
John Flaherty drew a two-out walk, and Cano followed with his
two-run double to the wall in center field that cut the lead to

Mays completed 7 1/3 innings, yielding four hits, three runs --
two earned -- and two walks (one intentional) while striking out

"I've had quite a few no-decisions, but in all of those games
I've given my team a chance to win," Mays said.

Making his sixth career start, Wang put himself in a hole after
a leadoff single by Lew Ford in the fourth inning. He hit Hunter on
the wrist with a wayward pitch, threw ball one to Jones -- and then
watched his next offering soar above right field and nearly land in
the upper deck to make it 3-0.

Wang gave up five hits, three runs and one walk, striking out

"He's certainly established himself as a big-league pitcher,"
Torre said. "He just has handled every situation with a calm."

Game notes
Torre said he wasn't sure if Jeter would play Sunday. ...
The Twins were without catcher Joe Mauer (groin) and first baseman
Justin Morneau (elbow) for the second straight game. Mauer
pinch-hit in the eighth, but he was unable to play the field.
Gardenhire said Morneau would have an MRI on Sunday. ... Minnesota
Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper was one of the participants in
a softball home run hitting contest. Culpepper was drafted by the
Yankees in the 26th round in 1995 out of Vanguard High School in
Ocala, Fla.