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Fresh off DL, El Duque earns first career save

6/29/2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Mets won the home-run derby. Jorge Posada and the New York Yankees won the game.

Posada connected from both sides of the plate to drive in five
runs and Robin Ventura knocked in four against his former team as
the Yankees beat the Mets 11-5 Friday night.

Yet for all the big hits, Orlando Hernandez provided the biggest
lift for the Yankees. Fresh off the disabled list from a bad back,
he came in with an 8-5 edge and pitched four scoreless innings for
his first career save.

"El Duque restored order,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Hernandez, who will soon rejoin the rotation, seemed enthused
about his outing. He kept the ball from his save, and then even did
a rare interview in English.

"I know the question,'' he said. "I feel good. I feel fine.
I'm very happy to come back to the team. It was a good night.''

With Mike Piazza having another run-in at Yankee Stadium --
literally -- the Yankees evened the Subway Series at 2-all.

As lightning crackled beyond the center-field fence and a
sellout crowd of 55,739 chanted, the city rivals combined for five
homers in the first five innings.

Mo Vaughn hit a cannon shot -- off the Canon copier sign -- and
Roger Cedeno and Timo Perez also connected for the Mets. But those
homers produced only four runs, and Posada bettered that.

Posada had been in a 6-for-39 rut before breaking loose.

"I just got two balls in the air,'' he said. "I love playing
here. I see the ball really well. There's something about playing
here.''

Ventura hit a two-run double and had a pair of sacrifice flies.
He has 19 homers and 57 RBI this season after having only 21 home
runs and 61 RBIs for the Mets all of last year.

Ventura played down any extra satisfaction from beating the
Mets.

"I love to do this against anybody,'' he said.

Mike Mussina (11-3) struggled again, yet lasted five innings for
the win. He improved to 4-0 lifetime against the Mets.

Hernandez retired his first seven batters before Piazza reached.
With one out in the eighth, the Mets star hit a soft liner to first
baseman Nick Johnson, who let the ball bounce and then mishandled
it for an error.

Piazza was running hard down the line and knocked left knees
with Johnson as he crossed the bag. Piazza tumbled while Johnson
stayed on his feet, bringing Mets manager Bobby Valentine and a
trainer from the dugout.

Piazza stayed in the game -- he and Johnson were both a bit sore
later -- and there were no problems, unlike in the past. Piazza was
beaned by Roger Clemens at Yankee Stadium in the 2000 regular
season, and had the Yankees pitcher throw the barrel of a broken
bat in his direction during the World Series that fall.

Jeff D'Amico (4-7) was tagged for seven runs in four-plus
innings. He's 0-3 in his last six starts.

"The good pitches are getting hit, and the bad pitches are
getting hit even further,'' he said. "This is, by far, the worst
month I've had -- ever.''

Posada hit a three-run homer left-handed to cap a five-run burst
in the third that made it 6-1. He hit a two-run shot right-handed
in the fifth off Bobby Jones that made it 8-5.

Posada has homered from both sides four times in his career.

Cedeno hit a solo homer in the third, Vaughn had a two-run drive
in the fourth and Perez hit a solo homer in the fifth to pull the
Mets to 6-5.

Vaughn's wild throw from first base helped the Yankees score
twice in the sixth. Mets reliever Jaime Cerda made his major league
debut with the bases loaded, one out and the music blaring, and
retired all five batters he faced.

Cerda is from Fresno, Calif., the same hometown as Mets Hall of
Famer Tom Seaver. After the game, Seaver, now a Mets broadcaster,
walked into the clubhouse and shook Cerda's hand.

"Congratulations,'' Seaver said. "Good job.''

Game notes
After the game, the Yankees put LHP Sterling Hitchcock back
on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained lower back. LHP Randy
Choate was recalled from Triple-A Columbus. ... The Yankees are
17-11 in interleague play against the Mets. The Yankees also beat
them in the 2000 World Series. ... Karim Garcia, promoted this week
from Triple-A Columbus, got his first hit and scored his first run
for the Yankees. ... Yankees OF Shane Spencer has a sprained left
wrist. He jammed his left hand making a catch this week in
Baltimore and is day-to-day. ... Clemens is not scheduled to face
the Mets in this series. ... Yankees INF Ron Coomer was not at the
ballpark while recovering from muscle spasms and a pinched nerve in
his neck. The Yankees hope he'll be OK to play by Sunday night.