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AL: Shef serves Yankees well

By Associated Press
Published June 4, 2004

NEW YORK - The Yankees are beginning to realize just how good they are.

Gary Sheffield snapped a seventh-inning tie with a two-out double, and Javier Vazquez pitched New York to a 5-2 victory Thursday for another sweep of the Orioles.

Alex Rodriguez drove in a run and scored for the surging Yankees, who have won nine of 10 to open a season-high 21/2-game lead over Boston in the East.

"We just feel like we can win every ballgame," Sheffield said. "Somebody is going to get the big hit."

The Yankees own the Orioles, winning eight consecutive meetings dating to last season and 45 of their past 62 games against Baltimore.

Javy Lopez homered for the Orioles, but rookie manager Lee Mazzilli remained winless in six games against former boss Joe Torre. The Yankees have outscored Baltimore 59-31 this year, including a three-game sweep last week at Camden Yards.

"They're still better than us," Rafael Palmeiro said.

Miguel Cairo singled leading off the seventh against John Parrish (3-2). Derek Jeter was hit by a pitch one out later, and Sheffield's two-run double into the rightfield corner off B.J. Ryan gave New York a 4-2 lead.

"This is the best I've felt all year," said Sheffield, hitting .289 with six homers and 33 RBIs. "This is the game you want the most out of the whole series. The third one is the hardest."

Hideki Matsui added a run-scoring single, a one-hop smash off Palmeiro's arm at first base.

Vazquez (6-4) won his third straight start, allowing two runs and five hits in seven innings. Tom Gordon pitched a hitless eighth before Mariano Rivera got three straight outs for his 21st save in 22 chances and third of the series.

The Yankees have the best record in the majors at 33-19.

"I think the one thing that separates us now, you know, the big walks, the good at-bats, grinding it out. That takes its toll," Rodriguez said.

Jeter went 0-for-2. He had driven in at least one run in nine consecutive games, the longest run by a Yankee since Don Mattingly also went nine games in 1987.

ROYALS 9, TIGERS 6: Carlos Beltran had three hits and four RBIs to lead visiting Kansas City. Tigers manager Alan Trammell was at the ballpark after missing the previous two games with the flu but did not appear in the dugout as the Tigers lost for the eighth time in 11 games. Dennys Reyes (2-0) remained unbeaten in six starts.

ANGELS 5, INDIANS 2: Raul Mondesi homered and threw out a runner at the plate to help host Anaheim. The Angels got a two-run triple from Jose Guillen to hand league ERA leader Cliff Lee his first loss of the season. Kelvim Escobar (4-2) allowed eight hits over eight innings with six strikeouts. Lee (5-1) allowed 10 hits over 61/3 innings.

ATHLETICS 2, BLUE JAYS 1 (11): Jermaine Dye's sacrifice fly with one out in the 11th scored Eric Byrnes as Oakland won its third extra-inning game in as many days. Chad Bradford (3-1) pitched the 11th for the win for the Athletics, won their seventh consecutive at home.

[Last modified June 4, 2004, 01:28:06]


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