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Blue Jays 1 @ Yankees 4

Tuesday May 21, 2002

Mussina W6-2 | 6.2IP | 4H | 1ER | 2BB | 5K | 4.14ERA

NEW YORK (AP) -- At least Mike Mussina had a little bit of time to prepare for this start.

Mussina, working on just three days' rest, allowed only four hits in 6 2/3 innings and the New York Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 Tuesday night for their sixth straight victory.

``Finding out yesterday, I think, made it easier,'' he said. ``If I had come in here and found out it was just three or four hours instead of tomorrow, that would have made it tougher, I'm sure.''

Mussina (6-2) struck out five and walked three while filling in for left-hander David Wells, who missed his turn because of back soreness.

Wells had an MRI exam earlier in the day and was diagnosed with a strained lower back. He was listed as day-to-day.

With Orlando Hernandez scratched from Monday night's start and Wells also out of action, Mussina volunteered for the assignment.

``He came in and asked,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said, ``and I told him only if we scratched two starters. Of course, that is exactly what we did.''

Hernandez was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with an upper back strain.

Although he expected ``not to be as sharp'' as usual, Mussina was pleasantly surprised about how well his stuff worked.

``Sometimes, it falls into place for you and I think that's what happened for me. I had really good off-speed stuff the last half of the time I was in there,'' he said.

Mussina pitched on three days' rest for the eighth time in his career, and is 3-3 in those games. He previously did it last October against Tampa Bay as a four-inning tuneup for the playoffs.

``He's a guy who knows how to pitch. He wasn't throwing that hard today but he kept us off balance and mixed up his pitches well,'' Toronto slugger Carlos Delgado said.

Jason Giambi and Rondell White hit solo homers for the Yankees, giving them a major league-leading 74 in 43 games.

Both teams only got four hits. New York has won 13 of its last 14.

Giambi began a two-run second against Blue Jays starter Luke Prokopec (2-6) by banking his 10th home run off the right-field foul pole. Prokopec then walked the next two hitters and Jorge Posada eventually scored on White's infield out.

White led off the seventh with his fifth homer of the season and first since April 17.

``I missed my spot with my curve twice today and they were expecting it,'' Prokopec said of the two home runs.

Toronto cut the lead the 2-1 on Raul Mondesi's RBI double in the third but the Yankees scored again in the fourth on John Vander Wal's sacrifice fly.

Vernon Wells singled with two out in the seventh and Steve Karsay relieved Mussina, striking out Felix Lopez to end the inning.

Karsay pitched the ninth for his first save with the Yankees.

Game notes
The Yankees' burst of 74 home runs in 43 games marks the most they have hit in that span in franchise history. The previous best was 73 in 50 games in 1956. ... LHP Andy Pettitte threw two scoreless innings for Class A Tampa in the Florida State League. He's on the disabled list because of tendinitis in his elbow. ... Jeter's third-inning infield single extended his hitting streak to 12 games, longest for the Yankees this season. ... The Yankees placed RHP Orlando Hernandez on the disabled list retroactive to May 16 and called up RHP Adrian Hernandez from Columbus to start Wednesday. ... Prokopec is 0-2 in three starts this season against the Yankees. He is tied with Oakland's Tim Hudson for the most losses by an AL pitcher this season.


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