Series: Game 2 of 4

NY Yankees leads 2-0 (as of 9/13)

Game 1: Friday, September 12
Tampa Bay4Final
NY Yankees10
Game 2: Saturday, September 13
Tampa Bay4Final
NY Yankees6
Game 3: Saturday, September 13
Tampa Bay3Final
NY Yankees6
Game 4: Sunday, September 14
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NY Yankees2

Devil Rays 4

(58-88, 24-47 away)

Yankees 6

(91-56, 46-30 home)

    1:05 PM ET, September 13, 2003

    Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York 

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    TB 201001010 5 10 1
    NYY 03010101 - 6 8 2

    W: G. White (5-0)

    L: J. Kennedy (3-12)

    S: M. Rivera (36)

    New York runs win streak to eight in a row

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Bernie Williams gave Yankees fans a pair of reasons to celebrate his 35th birthday.

    Showing signs of breaking out of his prolonged slump, Williams hit two homers in a game for the first time in more than a year. Ruben Sierra added a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning Saturday, and New York beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6-5 in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.

    Williams didn't celebrate after the win, New York's seventh straight.

    "Still got another game," he said. "I put it on hold now."

    Before the game, New York manager Joe Torre found it hard to believe that his center fielder had turned 35.

    "He is old. Maybe I'll give him a birthday present," the 63-year-old Torre said playfully. "He has to give me one first."

    Williams hit a solo homer on the first pitch he saw from Rob Bell in the second inning, then drove Bell's pitch into the first row of the upper deck in the sixth for a 5-4 lead. It was the first multihomer game for Williams since May 17 last year against Minnesota.

    Asked what Williams' reward for those presents was, Torre replied: "He gets to play the second game."

    Before his go-ahead homer against Boston last Sunday, Williams had been in a 9-for-60 slump. That was the first of four home runs he's hit on the homestand, which have boosted his season total to 14. On Saturday he had his first three-hit game since Aug. 23.

    Williams thinks he's been inconsistent rather than slumping. He was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts Friday.

    "One day is good. One day is terrible," he said.

    After Tampa Bay tied the score 5-all in the eighth against Gabe White (2-0), Sierra led off the bottom half with a homer to center off Joe Kennedy (3-12). Juan Rivera was the right fielder in New York's original lineup, but Torre put Sierra in to get him some at-bats, and he responded with his first home run since July 18.

    "I crushed that ball," said Sierra, who had been in a 6-for-37 slide.

    The Yankees have praised Sierra for working hard in a part-time role.

    "It's mostly been off the field as an adviser to the young players -- and the older players, because he's been talking to me, too," Williams said.

    Torre probably would have replaced Sierra with Rivera in right field to start the eighth, but put Rivera in left after Hideki Matsui bruised his knee on the final play of the seventh.

    Matsui was hurt when he hit a ball to the right side with two outs and the bases loaded. Kennedy picked up the ball and went for the tag near the foul line, colliding with Matsui's left knee. X-rays were negative.

    Aaron Boone and John Flaherty hit second-inning RBI doubles for the Yankees, who began the day four games ahead of second-place Boston in the AL East. On a rainy afternoon, New York also got a run in the fourth on a passed ball by catcher Pete Laforest.

    Mariano Rivera needed just four pitches to get three outs for his 36th save in 42 chances.

    Jeff Weaver, making his first start since Aug. 18, allowed singles to his first three batters, falling behind 2-0 in the first on Julio Lugo's RBI single and Laforest's sacrifice fly. Laforest tied it 3-all with an RBI grounder in the third, and Lugo knotted it at 4 with an run-scoring grounder in the sixth off Felix Heredia.

    "Obviously, the first inning was a little shaky," Weaver said.

    White threw a called third strike past Jared Sandberg to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, but he allowed Carl Crawford's leadoff comebacker in the eighth to go through his legs for an error, and Aubrey Huff singled in Crawford to become only the second Tampa Bay player to reach 100 RBI.

    "Everybody's looking for run production -- 100 is certainly a nice number," Huff said.

    Tampa Bay outhit New York 14-10, but stranded 12 runners.

    "We wasted a lot of opportunities," manager Lou Piniella said.

    Game notes

    Andy Pettitte left the Yankees on Friday because his son Jared had an asthma attack, Torre said, but the pitcher was expected back Saturday night. ... Fred McGriff reached 100 RBI for the Devil Rays in 1999 and 2000. ... Mike Mussina (16-7) was to start the second game for the Yankees against Carlos Reyes (0-2). ... Derek Jeter was hit on the left pinky in the seventh by Chad Gaudin's pitch but remained in the game.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press