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Archive for Thursday, September 23, 2004

Yankees must wait to clinch berth

Wells’ two-run triple boosts Blue Jays, hangs first loss on Hernandez

September 23, 2004

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— Orlando Hernandez wasn't even aware the New York Yankees would have clinched their 10th consecutive playoff berth with a win Wednesday night.

"I was thinking about today's game. I don't think about the consequences," he said. "Now I have a good reason to be upset with myself."

Vernon Wells hit a go-ahead, two-run triple off Hernandez in the seventh inning, and rookie Brandon League escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom half as the Toronto Blue Jays rallied past the Yankees, 5-4, to send El Duque to his first loss of the season.

New York (95-57) would have clinched the playoff berth with either a win or an Oakland victory at Texas. But the Athletics lost 5-3 to the Rangers (84-67).

Yankees manager Joe Torre knew before the game that a victory would have meant a clinch because the A's (87-63) and Anaheim (85-66) have six games remaining with each other -- meaning the most wins possible for a second-place team in the AL West or Central could be 95.

"I didn't want to tell anyone. I don't want to put pressure," he said. "That's clinching a playoff spot. We want more than that."

New York, which led 3-0 on Bernie Williams' two-run, first-inning homer off Ted Lilly (12-10) and Ruben Sierra's solo shot in the second, wants its seventh straight AL East title. New York's lead over second-place Boston was cut to 31/2 games when the Red Sox beat Baltimore 7-6 in 12 innings, and the Yankees and Red Sox meet in a three-game series this week at Fenway Park.

Trying to become the first Yankees starter to win his first nine decisions since Tommy John in 1979, Hernandez (8-1) let Toronto close to 3-2 on Russ Adams' solo homer in the third and an RBI single to Gregg Zaun in the sixth.

He allowed a double to No. 9 hitter Chris Gomez leading off the seventh, and Adams followed with a pop fly to center. Williams appeared to get a late start, and the ball dropped.

Red Sox 7, Orioles 6 12 innings

Boston -- Orlando Cabrera homered in the bottom of the 12th inning to lead Boston to its second straight win in its last at-bat. Cabrera lined a 2-2 pitch from Rick Bauer into the Green Monster seats in left field. On Tuesday, Mark Bellhorn's two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the ninth lifted the Red Sox to a 3-2 win.

The victory moved Boston, which leads the AL wild-card race, 31/2 games behind the New York Yankees in the East. The teams play a three-game series at Fenway Park over the weekend.

Curtis Leskanic (3-5) worked out of a bases-loaded jam with one out in the top of the inning for the win.

Rangers 5, Athletics 3

Arlington, Texas -- Kenny Rogers matched a career high with his 17th win, and Eric Young hit his first homer in more than a year, a three-run tiebreaker, leading Texas over Oakland to move three games back of the Athletics.

Texas will try to complete a three-game sweep today in its last meeting against the Athletics. The Rangers have 10 games left after that, six against Seattle and four at home against Anaheim.

Indians 7, Tigers 6

Detroit -- Jhonny Peralta's two-run double keyed Cleveland's five-run seventh inning, and the Indians rallied to defeat Detroit. Josh Phelps homered for the Indians, who came back from a 3-0 deficit a night after overcoming a five-run deficit to win 8-7. Jake Westbrook (13-9) won for the first time in four September starts, allowing three runs and seven hits in seven innings.

Mariners 16, Angels 6

Anaheim, Calif. -- Raul Ibanez tied an American League record with six hits, and Ichiro Suzuki had four more singles to pace Seattle's 24-hit outburst against Anaheim. Ibanez went 6-for-6 with a career-high five RBIs a night after Suzuki went 5-for-5. Ibanez's six hits tied the AL record for a nine-inning game. Suzuki set a Seattle record with nine hits in two games. He now has 247 hits and is 10 from tying George Sisler's 84-year-old major-league record with 10 games remaining.

White Sox 7, Twins 6

Chicago -- Paul Konerko hit a game-winning single in the ninth inning to lead Chicago. Neal Cotts (4-3) recorded one out in the ninth to earn the win.

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