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Yankees Are in Familiar Territory

Baseball: They beat Padres, 3-2, to take sole possession of first place in AL East for first time since April 14.

June 24, 2002|From Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — The New York Yankees have been in first place enough to know that it doesn't mean much until October.

They scored a run in the ninth inning to beat the San Diego Padres, 3-2, Sunday and take sole possession of first place in the American League East for the first time since April 14.

"It's nice to be in first place, but again, we are only in June," Manager Joe Torre said.

Bernie Williams' bases-loaded groundout drove in the go-ahead run and Steve Karsay closed it out with a perfect inning for his third save.

"I was just trying to make contact and put the ball in play hard," Williams said.

Pinch-hitter Enrique Wilson drew a leadoff walk from Steve Reed (1-3) in the ninth. After Alfonso Soriano struck out, Derek Jeter singled to move Wilson to second.

Padre closer Trevor Hoffman came in and walked Nick Johnson to load the bases. Williams followed with a grounder to first baseman Kevin Barker, who looked home but decided he had no play on Wilson and took the out at first.

"It's the winning run. If I had to do it over again, maybe I throw home," Barker said. "But talking to the guys watching, they said he was already sliding."

Ramiro Mendoza (5-2) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the victory.

The Yankees took a 2-0 lead in the seventh. Rondell White hit a one-out solo homer against starter Brian Lawrence.

Mike Mussina, who had his second career multihit game, singled to right field and went to second on an error by Gene Kingsale.

Soriano followed with an infield single, and Jeter drove in Mussina with a single to left.

The Padres scored twice in the bottom half. Ramon Vazquez had a leadoff walk, and Wiki Gonzalez was hit by a pitch from Mussina with one out.

Mike Stanton replaced Mussina and induced pinch-hitter Ron Gant to hit a check-swing grounder to the mound. It appeared that Stanton had a play at third, but he took the safe out at first.

Mendoza came in with two out and runners on second and third to face Deivi Cruz, who hit an 0-and-1 curveball up the middle for a two-run single.

Mark Kotsay followed with a double to center that dropped in front of a sliding Williams. Ray Lankford was intentionally walked, and Barker grounded out to first to end the inning.

"We played them tough," Manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's another hard one to lose."

A crowd of 50,050 saw Mussina throw 6 1/3 strong innings, giving up four hits and striking out seven.

Lawrence also pitched an effective 6 1/3 innings, giving up two runs and eight hits.

The Yankees had a scoring opportunity cut down in the fifth. Mussina hit a one-out single to center, and Soriano followed with a double to center.

The ball one-hopped the fence, where Kotsay fielded it and relayed to second baseman Vazquez, who made a perfect throw to catcher Tom Lampkin, who tagged out Mussina.

"Running the bases, especially at full speed, takes quite a bit out of you," Mussina said. "That was a long way to run. I haven't gone first to home in a long time. Hopefully, I won't have to do it again any time soon."

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