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A-Rod homers again as NY edges A's

5/6/2004

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Even the 25th player on the New York Yankees' roster can beat you -- that's how good this team is.

Tony Clark doubled in the go-ahead run with two outs in the
ninth inning as the surging Yankees won their eighth straight
game, 4-3 over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night.

"I've always said from spring training, your No. 1 guy is just
as important your No. 25 guy," Clark said. "I'm the 25th guy. I
needed a situation to contribute. I was fortunate."

Alex Rodriguez tied the score at 3 with his solo homer to
left-center leading off the ninth -- New York's third solo shot of
the game.

"I wanted to make sure I got my money's worth," he said.

A-Rod hit his 350th homer a night earlier, a three-run
drive that helped the Yankees rally from a 7-1 deficit to win 10-8.

The reigning AL MVP is batting .274, but it seems he finally is
beginning to find his comfort zone at the plate with his new team.

"A-Rod is on his game right now," manager Joe Torre said.
"The two bolts he's hit the last two days have been terrific."

Hideki Matsui hit a bloop single to the gap in right-center to
move Jorge Posada to third with two outs in the ninth, then slumping Clark lined a double to the gap in left-center.

Eric Chavez had singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh, but
the A's bullpen botched things again. Arthur Rhodes (0-1) blew his
second save chance this year.

"I went out there and blew it," said Rhodes, who converted
from setup man to closer this season. "I have to keep my head up
and do my job tomorrow. The bullpen, we'll turn this thing around
pretty soon. We'll get our heads on straight."

Paul Quantrill (3-1) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win. Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his 11th save in as many chances, allowing his first two runners to reach. He converted his 27th straight save.

Rivera allowed singles to Damian Miller and pinch-hitter Billy McMillon, his first two batters. Oakland had runners at the corners with two outs, but Chavez popped out.

New York, which stranded 14, is on its longest winning streak
since reeling off eight straight victories Sept. 7-13 last
year.

"These guys, I couldn't be more proud of them for not
quitting," Torre said. "They play nine innings every day. ...
They're not going to be denied. We're in a hot streak right now.
You can't win every game, but we're going to milk this thing as long
as we can."

Oakland has lost all five meetings to the Yankees this season,
including a three-game sweep last week at Yankee Stadium. Overall,
the A's have dropped nine of their last 11.

Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi also homered for New York, which
got 11 hits a night after pounding a season-high 17.

Kevin Brown, the AL pitcher of the month for April, gave up
three runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Barry Zito, who hasn't won in three starts since April 18 at
Anaheim, looked better than he did last week against the Yankees.
The lefty gave up a career-high four home runs in the A's 7-5 loss
last Thursday.

This time, he allowed two runs -- both solo homers -- and six hits
in six innings, struck out six and walked three.

Zito finally is beginning to look more like himself again after
a slow start. The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner had a solid spring
but has struggled to be consistent with all his pitches and thinks
hitters have made adjustments to his pitching style.

Sheffield hit his second homer of the year, a solo shot to
left-center, in the second off Zito to give New York the lead. He
had his season-high nine-game hitting streak snapped Tuesday.

Zito ended the third and the fourth innings using his signature
curveball to strike out Sheffield looking in the third and Clark
looking in the fourth. Zito also threw a nasty curve past Sheffield
in the sixth for another looking strikeout and followed with a
strikeout of Posada with the curve.

Then, in the fifth, he struck out Bernie Williams and Rodriguez
back to back with high fastballs.

"I just got back to my game a little more, pounding guys in,"
Zito said. "I got away from that the last couple outings."

Giambi connected on a 2-0 pitch in the sixth for his sixth homer
this year, tying the score at 2.

Scott Hatteberg hit his second homer in two days in the second
to tie the score. He also hit a solo homer to right Tuesday night.
Eric Byrnes doubled in the second A's run in the third.

Game notes
Jose Contreras was optioned to Class A Tampa, a day after the shortest outing of his career. The Yankees want the right-hander to work on his mechanics under
pitching guru Billy Connors, the Yankees' vice president of player personnel. Contreras, 7-2 last year, is 1-2 with a 9.47 ERA so far in 2004. ... Clark was batting .167 before the double. ... Sheffield entered batting .429 (3-for-7) against Zito, who has a three-game losing streak against the Yankees. ... Yankees SS Derek Jeter was removed from the starting lineup because of a stomach virus. Enrique Wilson started in Jeter's place. The team said Jeter was unable to eat and that caused him to be weak. ... New York's Ruben Sierra, batting .320 with an eight-game hitting streak coming in, didn't start because of a cramp in his left hamstring. But he came in as a pinch-hitter for Miguel Cairo in the eighth and reached on an error, ending his streak.