Yankees 5, Astros 3
Matsui produced three hits and a nifty bit of baserunning, and Mike Mussina stopped his four-game losing streak as the Yankees beat Houston 5-3 Tuesday night, ending the Astros’ seven-game winning string.
Jorge Posada added a two-run homer as the Yankees won the first regular-season game between the teams.
“We have a long homestand and we haven’t played that well here,” Mussina said. “Hopefully, this is a good start.”
Starting a stretch of 10 games in a row at home, the Yankees took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. Matsui led off with a double and moved up on a groundout, but was trapped off the bag on Raul Mondesi’s sharp grounder to third baseman Morgan Ensberg.
“He was stuck in no man’s land,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
But Matsui twisted away from the tag—he stepped on the grass in foul territory to get away—and ran home when Ensberg threw to first. Ensberg seemed shocked to find out third-base umpire Dana DeMuth had called Matsui safe, and Astros manager Jimy Williams came out to argue.
“I never really learned it anywhere,” Matsui said of his move, through a translator. “I actually thought I was out, and when I looked at the umpire, he said I was safe. When I saw the third baseman throw to first, I ran home.”
Ensberg was sure he tagged Matsui, although TV replays indicated he missed.
“I felt the tag, I touched him. He ran into my glove,” he said. “You tag, and you turn and throw.”
Summed up Mussina: “You come to this game and every day you’re going to see something you’ve never seen before. That was today’s.”
Houston was trying to post its longest winning streak since taking 12 in a row in 1999. Craig Biggio and Ensberg homered for the Astros.
Mussina (8-4) had struggled since winning his first seven starts of the season. He matched the longest losing skid of his career over a span of five starts, going winless since May 7.
He blanked Houston on three hits over the first five innings before giving up Biggio’s two-run homer. Mussina escaped a bases-loaded jam later in the sixth when Richard Hidalgo lined into a double play, and left after the seventh.
“The biggest pitch of the day was that rocket to third base that turned into a double play,” Mussina said.
Posada’s homer and a lucky bounce helped the Yankees take a 3-0 lead in the fifth against Wade Miller (4-7).
Alfonso Soriano got an infield hit with one out and Derek Jeter followed with a grounder that skipped up and handcuffed second baseman Jeff Kent. Instead of turning a double play, Kent could only throw out Jeter.
“The ball got to me pretty quickly, but I just didn’t make the play,” Kent said.
Soriano moved to second on the play and scored when Jason Giambi looped an RBI single. Posada then hit his 15th home run.
Matsui hit an RBI single in the eighth. He has 13 hits in his last 19 at-bats.
Biggio’s homer made it an even more special day for the Astros star raised on Long Island. He played his first game at Yankee Stadium, and made sure to tour Monument Park with his 10- and 8-year-old sons before batting practice.
“It was a tough game to lose, but hitting a home run at Yankee Stadium waspretty cool,” Biggio said.
Mussina also lost four straight in 2000 with Baltimore. … Mussina struck out six and leads the AL with 94. … Jeff Bagwell has gone a career-high 125 at-bats without a home run. The Houston star doubled in four at-bats in his first game at Yankee Stadium. … Astros OF Lance Berkman extended his hitting streak to 16 games. His career best was 21 in 2001. … The Astros fell to 6-1 in interleague play this season. They swept Baltimore and Tampa Bay earlier. … The Yankees improved to 14-15 at home. They are 22-12 on the road. … The Yankees homered in their 12th straight game. … New York hitters struck out six times. The Yankees had fanned at least 10 times infour straight games, their longest such streak since 1965.