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Lidle auditions for playoff spot with longest outing as Yank

NEW YORK (AP) -- Cory Lidle figures he'll be pitching out of the
bullpen in the playoffs. And he's hoping to get plenty of chances --
sort of.

Lidle worked neatly into the seventh inning in a postseason
audition, Bobby Abreu and Robinson Cano homered and the New York Yankees held off the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 Tuesday night.

Yankees manager Joe Torre is still trying to pick a fourth
starter for next week's playoffs. The choice seems to be between
Lidle and Jaret Wright, with the odd man out likely to wind up in
long relief.

Lidle thinks the Yankees are leaning toward using him in relief
and putting Wright in the rotation.

"It kind of looks like that's how it's playing itself out,"
Lidle said. "They haven't told me anything.

"If they use me out of the bullpen, I'd like to get some
innings," he said. "But if I don't get in out of the bullpen,
it's because our starters are doing good. So either way, it's a
win-win situation."

Lidle pitched for the first time since Sept. 13, when he came
down with tendinitis in his right forefinger. He went 6 2/3 innings
in his longest outing since Philadelphia traded him to the Yankees
-- he was 8-7 for the Phillies -- with Abreu on July 30.

"This was a real plus for us tonight," Torre said.

Lidle (4-3) gave up solo home runs to nemesis Jay Gibbons, Ramon Hernandez and Corey Patterson. The Yankees stayed tied with Detroit
for the best record in the AL.

Torre said before the game he was looking for "sharpness" from
Lidle more than results. The right-hander walked one, hit a batter
with a pitch and gave up six hits.

Lidle was one strike away from seven full innings when Patterson
homered on an 0-2 pitch and Kevin Millar followed with one of his
four singles. Torre gave Lidle a pat on the shoulder when he came
out to the mound to make a change.

"Cory Lidle is one of those guys when the game keeps going, he
feels more comfortable," Abreu said.

Scott Proctor pitched the ninth for his first major league save,
giving up Jeff Fiorentino's RBI single before stranding two
runners.

The Orioles lost their third in a row. Manager Sam Perlozzo was
ejected in the sixth when he argued that Miguel Tejada had checked
his swing on an inside pitch that sent the Baltimore cleanup man
spinning into the dirt.

Rodrigo Lopez (9-18) lost in relief of Hayden Penn, who left in
the fourth because of a strained lower back.

Bounced from the rotation earlier this season, Lopez leads the
majors in defeats. His loss total is the most for an Orioles
pitcher since Pat Dobson dropped 18 in 1972.

"I think things will turn around for me, but maybe next year,"
Lopez said. "I've been working good, I feel strong. It just hasn't
been working out for me."

Lopez went 51-40 for Baltimore the past four years before his
losses mounted this season.

"It doesn't really matter to me whether it's 18 or 19. I just
want to try to pitch and do the best I can," he said.

The Yankees, meanwhile, posted their 95th win. The AL East
champions reached that mark for the sixth straight year -- the only
other time they had such a streak was from 1949-57.

Cano hit a solo homer in the fourth that made it 2-all and Abreu
lined a two-run shot the next inning. Those drives gave the Yankees
a total of 200 home runs this season, and they joined the Chicago White Sox as the lone teams in major league history to hit that
many in seven consecutive seasons.

Gary Sheffield added an RBI single in the seventh. He also had
another solid game at first base, where he's been playing while
Jason Giambi recovers from a bad left wrist.

Hernandez tied a career high with his 21st home run in the
second. That gave him 83 RBI as a catcher, breaking the Orioles'
record of 82 set by Chris Hoiles in 1993.

Gibbons connected in the fourth. He's 11-for-26 with four homers
against Lidle.

Game notes
Giambi missed his sixth straight game. He hit off a tee and
in batting practice before the game, and Torre said he thought
Giambi might play Wednesday. ... Former Minnesota manager Tom Kelly
was in the seats, scouting the Yankees as a possible playoff
opponent. Kelly is a special assistant to the general manager for
the Twins. ... Penn's back problem will be re-examined Wednesday.
... Tejada extended his hitting streak to 13 games. ... Millar tied
his career high with four hits.