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Blue Jays 5 @ Yankees 6

Friday April 19, 2002

Mussina ND3-0 | 6.2IP | 6H | 4ER | 2BB | 4K | 2.54ERA

NEW YORK -- The Yankees won a wild one on Friday, as Alfonso Soriano drove home the winning run just a half-inning after Mariano Rivera blew his second save of the season, giving New York a 6-5 victory over the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Bob File (0-1) walked Gerald Williams to lead off the bottom of the ninth, and Nick Johnson moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Soriano brought home Williams with a shot that just got past Toronto first baseman Carlos Delgado, giving the Yankees their third straight win.

"We got away with one tonight. We dodged a bullet," said Yankees manager Joe Torre. "That ball looked low and away, and he squirted it down the first-base line. Soriano's very tough to pitch to because he has so many zones that he hits in."

"This is part of the growing process," said Toronto skipper Buck Martinez. "We are not here to play nice comfortable games and make the game close -- we're here to win games. Every time you lose, it's not very comfortable."

Rivera (1-1) allowed the Blue Jays to tie the game in the ninth inning. After retiring the final batter of the eighth inning with the tying run on second base, Rivera gave up a single to Felipe Lopez to lead off the ninth, and then made a crucial throwing error on Homer Bush's sacrifice bunt, moving the tying run to third base and allowing Bush to reach safely at first. Shannon Stewart's weak grounder to first base was enough to get Lopez home, evening the game at 5-5.

"He's got to put Lopez away. He threw a pitch that was right in the middle of the plate, and Lopez made him pay," said catcher Jorge Posada. "He has to get back to doing what Mo does -- strike him out, get him to hit a ground ball or break his bat."

After walking Dave Berg, Rivera threw a wild pitch over Posada's head, moving the go-ahead run to third base with one out for Raul Mondesi. Mondesi hit a short fly ball to right field, where Gerald Williams -- who had entered the game as a defensive replacement in the ninth -- threw a laser to plate. Posada tagged Bush after he failed to touch home plate.

"It was short enough and Gerald's got a good arm, so I wanted to either make contact with him or stay on the line," Posada said. "He tried to get around me and didn't step on the plate."

The Yankees have been making a habit out of pouncing on their opponents, and Friday was no different. After a 43-minute rain delay, New York jumped on Toronto starter Luke Prokopec for two runs in the first inning. Soriano doubled to lead off the game and scored on a double by Derek Jeter. It was the third straight game that Soriano scored out of the leadoff position in the first inning. Jeter scored on an RBI single by Jason Giambi, giving the Yankees a quick 2-0 lead. Toronto has now given up at least one first-inning run in 11 of its 15 games.

Mike Mussina, making his fourth start of the season, made his first mistake of the night in the fourth inning, when Delgado crushed an 0-1 pitch into the "black" seats in center field for his fifth homer of the season. It was just the 22nd time that has been accomplished since Yankee Stadium was renovated in 1976, and Delgado became the 18th player to do it.

The Yankees answered in the bottom of the fourth, using an error and RBIs from Johnson and Bernie Williams to take a 5-1 lead. The single by Williams, playing in his first game since receiving cortisone shots in both shoulders Tuesday, snapped his career-long hitless streak at 21 at-bats.

Mussina was rolling along, allowing just two hits over the first six innings. The seventh proved to be trouble, as Toronto mounted a two-out rally that would bring Mussina's night to an end. After Vernon Wells singled, Lopez pulled Toronto back with in striking distance, hitting a 1-0 pitch over the wall in right field, making it a 5-3 game. Bush singled and scored on Stewart's triple, which was misplayed by Bernie Williams in center.

With Stewart representing the tying run at third base, Mike Stanton came in to face pinch-hitter Brian Lesher, and struck him out as Lesher looked at a called third strike.

Mussina, who was trying to become the American League's second four-game winner, allowed four runs on six hits and two walks over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out four, but allowed two homers.

"I was pitching pretty good and things just got out of hand," Mussina said. "I just didn't stop it."

Prokopec tossed six innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 10 hits. He did not walk a batter, striking out five.

Jeter went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, collecting the 500th RBI of his career.

Mondesi was scheduled to play right field for the first time since April 5, but was moved to the DH spot shortly before game time because of a sore shoulder. Wells moved to right field, while Jose Cruz Jr. played center and Stewart moved to left.

The teams continue the three-game series Saturday, when Ted Lilly makes his first start of the season for New York, while Roy Halladay looks for his second win of the season for Toronto.


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