Yankees 5, Athletics 1

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NEW YORK (AP)—At least one Yankees player broke out of his slump.

Jose Contreras earned his first win of the season, Jorge Posada and Jason Giambi homered, and New York sent the Oakland Athletics to their fifth consecutive loss with a 5-1 victory Wednesday night.

Derek Jeter’s hitless skid reached 32 at-bats, but his teammates did more than enough to beat Mark Mulder.

“Pitchers aren’t going to feel sorry for you. You’ve just got to go out and keep swinging,” Jeter said. “It’s a funny game sometimes. You just try to help the team in other ways.”

Jeter did just that, making a slick pickup of pitcher Tom Gordon’s poor throw and turning a tough double play to end the eighth.

Giambi and Gary Sheffield each had an RBI single in a three-run first inning, helping the Yankees win their second game in a row since losing four straight.

After beginning the year with three bad starts, Contreras pitched six effective innings, allowing only Bobby Crosby’s home run in the third.

“Today I felt a lot more comfortable. I had a good fastball and my pitches were right where I wanted them,” Contreras said through a translator. “This start helps me to erase a lot of those memories. It gives me something to build on.”

But while Contreras (1-2) turned it around, Jeter didn’t.

Even with the crowd of 44,325 cheering and chanting his name during every plate appearance, Jeter went 0-for-4 with a walk. He grounded out with the bases loaded to end the eighth, dropping his batting average to .161.

It’s the longest slump by a Yankees player since Jimmy Wynn also went 32 at-bats without a hit in 1977.

“The fans have been great, cheering for me, standing up, trying to will me to get a hit,” Jeter said. “I’ve been thinking all right in the box. Afterwards, sometimes you start second-guessing.”

The last major league position player with a longer slump was Mets utilityman Joe McEwing, who went 0-for-33 in 2002, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Contreras gave up four hits and struck out four, lowering his ERA from 10.64 to 7.41.

“If you ask me, I think he’s got great stuff,” Oakland’s Eric Chavez said. “He’s effectively wild. I had no game plan. I’d never faced him before.”

Paul Quantrill pitched the seventh, and Gordon got six outs for his first save with the Yankees.

New York jumped ahead 3-0 in the first when five consecutive batters reached safely against Mulder (2-2).

He walked Hideki Matsui, who scored on Giambi’s single, and Sheffield drove in a run with an infield single. Ruben Sierra nearly broke it open, but his bases-loaded drive to the center-field fence was caught for a sacrifice fly.

“In the first inning, I just wasn’t throwing good fastballs,” Mulder said. “I wasn’t hitting my spots. I felt I had good stuff.”

Crosby homered leading off the third, his first at-bat after missing six games with a bruised left knee.

That’s when Posada went to the mound with some encouraging words for Contreras.

“I didn’t want him to lose focus. Right now, he’s not 100 percent mentally. I was proud of the way he responded,” Posada said. “You just can’t let that guy die out there. You just can’t let him give up, and he didn’t.”

Posada hit his eighth homer on a 2-0 pitch in the bottom half. Giambi connected against Arthur Rhodes leading off the eighth, his fourth of the year.

Mulder allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings, striking out six.

Notes

Yankees 1B Travis Lee will have his sore left shoulder re-evaluated by Dr. James Andrews on Thursday. … Mulder is 0-4 with a 9.97 ERA in four regular-season starts at Yankee Stadium, but he’s 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in two playoff starts in the Bronx. He went 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in two home starts against the Yankees last year. … It’s the longest losing streak for the A’s since they dropped six in a row last April. Jeter went hitless in 18 straight at-bats in 1997 and ’99, previously the worst slumps of his career. … Giambi saved at least one run with a fully extended, diving grab of Chavez’s two-out liner in the third. … Yankees CF Bernie Williams didn’t start after tweaking his left knee Tuesday night. He expects to play Thursday. … The Yankees and Devil Rays will make up an April 13 rainout as part of a doubleheader on Sept.6.

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