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Friday June 22, 2001
Yankees 6 @ Devil Rays 3

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Mike Mussina lost his lead, but not his focus.

The New York right-hander pitched seven solid innings and Shane Spencer homered and drove in three runs Friday night to help the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6-3.

Mussina (7-7) weathered back-to-back homers by Aubrey Huff and Steve Cox in the fourth inning and allowed three runs and seven hits before being replaced by Ramiro Mendoza.

"I've given up my share of big innings over the years. That's something you get accustomed to," Mussina said. "You have to put it behind you and move on -- focus on what's ahead of you. I didn't give up the lead. It was still in the middle of the ballgame."

Spencer hit a two-run homer in the second and added a RBI double in the eighth. Paul O'Neill had a sacrifice fly in the fourth and Derek Jeter broke a 3-3 tie with a run-scoring single off Albie Lopez (3-10) in the fifth.

Mendoza and Mike Stanton got the first two outs in the eighth before Mariano Rivera came on to strike out pinch-hitter Fred McGriff with two runners on. Rivera finished for his 22nd save in 25 opportunities.

The win before a crowd of 24,718 -- second-largest at Tropicana Field this season -- stopped the Yankees' two-game losing streak. Tampa Bay has dropped seven straight, matching its longest skid of the year.

Mussina, who struck out five and walked one, allowed only three baserunners after Huff and Cox homered on consecutive pitches to erase a 3-0 Yankees lead.

"All but that one inning, Mussina was terrific," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He just got a couple of pitches up and they let him know about it. He settled in there, and once he got the one-run lead, he made that stand up."

Huff's two-run shot was his first homer since May 4, a span of 138 at-bats. Cox, starting because McGriff was resting his sore right hamstring, followed with his first homer since May 31.

"We made it exciting for a while," said Devil Rays manager Hal McRae. "We didn't score enough runs, but I thought that Albie pitched well and, offensively, I thought we had a good game ... We did everything but win."

The loss was Lopez's team-record ninth straight. He allowed six runs on six hits, walked three and struck out four in seven-plus innings.

The Yankees took advantage of a two-base error by second baseman Damian Rolls to score a run without getting a hit in the fourth. Bernie Williams took third on a fielder's choice and scored on O'Neill's sacrifice fly.

Jeter's RBI single snapped a 3-3 tie in the fifth. Jorge Posada, who singled and scored on Spencer's homer in the second, drove in a run charged to Lopez with an eighth-inning single off Doug Creek.

"I felt like I went out there and did my job," Lopez said. "I went out there for seven innings and I think I gave up three or four runs, I'm not sure. Then after that, I was gone."

Game notes
Mussina has pitched seven innings or more in 10 of 15 starts. The right-hander had only allowed five homers in his previous 100 innings before giving up the back-to-back homers to Huff and Cox ... Williams has reached base in 27 consecutive games for New York ... Devil Rays RHP Esteban Yan was placed on the 15-day disabled list after experiencing tightness in his pitching shoulder after Thursday night's loss to Boston. Yan reported the problem after giving up four runs with two outs in the ninth, but didn't blame his performance on the injury ... The Devil Rays have been outscored 50-21 during their losing streak ... The Yankees' Alfonso Soriano walked twice. Going into the game, he had walked just nine times in 254 at-bats.