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Ventura Makes Grand Strides

July 29, 2002|From Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Robin Ventura made history, and Andy Pettitte gave the New York Yankee pitching staff a lift.

Ventura hit the 16th grand slam of his career and Pettitte gave up one run in 7 1/3 innings as the Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 9-1, Sunday.

Ventura tied Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Dave Kingman for sixth place on the all-time list. The active leader trails only Lou Gehrig (23), Eddie Murray (19), Willie McCovey (18), Jimmie Foxx (17) and Ted Williams (17).

"I don't care what category it is ... it's an honor to be in anything when you mention his name," said Ventura of tying Ruth, who led the Yankees to seven World Series appearances and hit 714 home runs overall.

Pettitte (5-4) tied his career-high with 12 strikeouts, equaling his total against Boston on Sept. 16, 1997.

"I've been throwing good lately," said Pettitte, who has won three of his last four starts. "I didn't realize I had reached so many strikeouts. I was just able to locate better, but I've been throwing really strong."

It was his seventh double-digit strikeout performance, and first since May 10, 2001, against Minnesota.

"I feel it's coming around for him," Yankee pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said of Pettitte, who missed almost two months earlier this season with left elbow tendinitis. "I think we needed this staff-wise. The hitters have been carrying us through some of the games."

New York had given up 32 runs over the last four games, including 16 in two with Tampa Bay.

Pettitte, who gave up four hits and walked three, is 9-1 in his career against Tampa Bay. The left-hander gave up two hits in six innings in the Yankees' 4-0 home opener victory over the Devil Rays on April 5.

Ventura put the Yankees ahead 4-0 with two out in the third inning when he lined a 3-1 pitch from Tanyon Sturtze (1-11) into the right-field stands for his 22nd homer. He homered in all three games of the weekend series against the Devil Rays after going 26 games without one.

In his career with the bases loaded, Ventura is hitting .358 (58 for 162) with 193 runs batted in.

"I've just been fortunate to be on teams and in situations where I've been sandwiched between good hitters," Ventura said. "That means you get more opportunities."

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

*--* Grandstanding New York Yankee third baseman Robin Ventura leads active players in career grand slams: Rk Player No 1 Lou Gehrig ...23 2 Eddie Murray ...19 3 Willie McCovey ...18 4 Jimmie Foxx ...17 4 Ted Williams ...17 6 Hank Aaron ...16 6 Dave Kingman ...16 6 Babe Ruth ...16 6 x-Robin Ventura ...16 10 x-Ken Griffey Jr. ...14 10 x-Manny Ramirez ...14 10 Mark McGwire ...14 10 Gil Hodges ...14 x-active

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