Yankees 4, Athletics 3

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Even the 25th player on the New York Yankees’ roster can beat you—that’s how good this team is.

Tony Clark doubled in the go-ahead run with two outs in the ninth inning and the surging Yankees won their eighth straight game, 4-3 over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night.

“I’ve always said from spring training, your No. 1 guy is just as important your No. 25 guy,” Clark said. “I’m the 25th guy. I needed a situation to contribute. I was fortunate.”

Alex Rodriguez tied the game at 3 with his solo homer to left-center leading off the ninth—New York’s third solo shot of the game.

“I wanted to make sure I got my money’s worth,” he said.

A-Rod hit his 350th homer a night earlier, a three-run drive that helped the Yankees rally from a 7-1 deficit to win 10-8. The reigning AL MVP is batting .274, but it seems he finally is beginning to find his comfort zone at the plate with his new team.

“A-Rod is on his game right now,” manager Joe Torre said. “The two bolts he’s hit the last two days have been terrific.”

Hideki Matsui hit a bloop single to the gap in right-center to move Jorge Posada to third with two outs in the ninth, then the slumping Clark lined a double to the gap in left-center.

Eric Chavez had singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh, but the A’s bullpen botched things again. Arthur Rhodes (0-1) blew his second save chance this year.

“I went out there and blew it,” said Rhodes, who converted from setup man to closer this season. “I have to keep my head up and do my job tomorrow. The bullpen, we’ll turn this thing around pretty soon. We’ll get our heads on straight.”

Paul Quantrill (3-1) pitched 1 1-3 innings for the win. Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his 11th save in as many chances, allowing his first two runners to reach. He converted his 27th straight save.

Rivera allowed singles to Damian Miller and pinch-hitter Billy McMillon, his first two batters. Oakland had runners at the corners with two outs, but Chavez popped out.

New York, which stranded 14, is on its longest winning streak since reeling off eight straight victories from Sept. 7-13 last year.

“These guys, I couldn’t be more proud of them for not quitting,” Torre said. “They play nine innings every day. … They’re not going to be denied. We’re in a hot streak right now. You can’t win every game but we’re going to milk this thing as long as we can.”

Oakland has lost all five meetings to the Yankees this season, including a three-game sweep last week at Yankee Stadium. Overall, the A’s have dropped nine of their last 11.

Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi also homered for New York, which got 11 hits a night after pounding a season-high 17.

Kevin Brown, the AL pitcher of the month for April, gave up three runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings.

Barry Zito, who hasn’t won in three starts since April 18 at Anaheim, looked better than he did last week against the Yankees. The lefty gave up a career-high four home runs in the A’s 7-5 loss last Thursday.

This time, he allowed two runs—both solo homers—and six hits in six innings, struck out six and walked three.

Zito finally is beginning to look more like himself again after a slow start. The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner had a solid spring but has struggled to be consistent with all his pitches and thinks hitters have made adjustments to his pitching style.

Sheffield hit his second homer of the year, a solo shot to left-center, in the second off Zito to give New York the lead. He had his season-high nine-game hitting streak snapped Tuesday.

Zito ended the third and the fourth innings using his signature curveball to strike out Sheffield looking in the third and Clark looking in the fourth. Zito also threw a nasty curve past Sheffield in the sixth for another looking strikeout and followed with a strikeout of Jorge Posada with the curve.

Then in the fifth, he struck out Bernie Williams and Rodriguez back to back with high fastballs.

“I just got back to my game a little more, pounding guys in,” Zito said. “I got away from that the last couple outings.”

Giambi connected on a 2-0 pitch in the sixth for his sixth homer this year to tie the game at 2.

Scott Hatteberg hit his second homer in two days in the second to tie the game. He also hit a solo homer to right Tuesday night. Eric Byrnes doubled inthe A’s second run in the third.


Clark was batting .167 before the double. … Sheffield entered batting .429 (3-for-7) against Zito, who has a three-game losing streak against the Yankees. … New York SS Derek Jeter was removed from the starting lineup because of a stomach virus. Enrique Wilson started in Jeter’s place. The team said Jeter was unable to eat and that caused him to be weak. … New York’s Ruben Sierra, batting .320 with an eight-game hitting streak coming in, didn’t start because of a cramp in his left hamstring. But he came in as a pinch-hitter for Miguel Cairo in the eighth and reached on an error to end hisstreak.

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