NEW YORK - Gary Sheffield put the Yankees ahead with a two-run single in the sixth inning, and Bret Prinz pitched out of a jam in the seventh to preserve the 3-2 victory over the Padres.
Derek Jeter had three hits and Jon Lieber worked out of trouble all afternoon for the Yankees, who improved to 9-2 on their 12-game homestand.
They'll try to end it in style today against former teammate David Wells, who makes his first start at Yankee Stadium since losing Game 1 of last year's World Series.
Sheffield's single to center off reliever Scott Linebrink gave New York a 3-2 lead and sent Padres starter Dennis Tankersley (0-3) to his eighth consecutive loss since his only major-league win on May 26, 2002, at Milwaukee.
San Diego put runners at the corners with none out in the seventh against Paul Quantrill, and Prinz came in to face the middle of the order.
He retired cleanup hitter Phil Nevin on a short fly to right, then got Jay Payton on a foul popup and Terrence Long on a fly to left.
Prinz pumped his fist as he walked off the mound to cheers from the sellout crowd of 54,280, providing another reason for manager Joe Torre to keep gaining confidence in him.
The right-hander has not allowed a run in seven appearances this season, spanning 92/3 innings. He has struck out nine and allowed three hits.
Tom Gordon fanned two in a perfect eighth, and Mariano Rivera got three outs for his AL-leading 26th save in 27 chances. He struck out Brian Giles and Nevin looking with a runner on to end it.
The Yankees, who have the best record in the majors, have won 15 of 18. Lieber (5-3) gave up 11 hits but only two runs in six innings, rebounding from a pair of poor starts.
The best thing he did, however, was stay healthy. Teammates Kevin Brown and Mike Mussina each left their last start with an injury - and the Yankees were still not sure whether either would be able to make his next start.
Lieber was hit by a couple of comebackers in the second inning, but remained in the game. He was also helped by some solid defense.
Bernie Williams legged out a double with two outs in the third, moved up on a passed ball and scored on Jeter's single to make it 1-0.
As for Wells, he signed some autographs in the corner of the Padres dugout before the game.
He said he was excited about starting but wasn't sure what kind of reception he'd get.