Yankees 7, Rockies 5

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NEW YORK (AP)—Derek Jeter’s return was a stroke of good luck for the New York Yankees. Now, they’re hoping to catch a break with Kevin Brown.

Jeter came back from a three-game absence to hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning, and the Yankees overcame Brown’s injury by rallying past the Colorado Rockies 7-5 Wednesday night.

Brown was forced to leave after only two innings because of stiffness in his lower back. A six-time All-Star, the 39-year-old righty has been beset by back problems and surgery, going on the disabled list six times in the previous five years.

“Obviously, you come out at that point in the game, you have to have some doubt about what you’ll be able to do,” Brown said. “Maybe this is coming to a head, and we’ll be able to get it straightened out,” he said.

Brown said he slipped on a pitch in the first inning, and likened the sensation to having a “steel rod” in his back. He’ll report to Yankee Stadium on Thursday morning and see how he’s doing, and that will determine whether he needs further tests.

Brown said the discomfort does not feel similar to what he had after back surgery.

“Whether it’s good news or bad news, we’ll find out,” Brown said.

Manager Joe Torre did not want to speculate on the severity of the injury.

“We’re hopeful,” he said.

The Yankees won their 12th straight interleague game, the longest streak in the majors since AL vs. NL regular-season play began in 1997.

New York has won 13 of 15 overall. Colorado lost its fourth in a row.

Jeter, sidelined by tightness in his left groin, homered along with Bernie Williams and Gary Sheffield as New York came back from an early 5-0 hole. The Yankees won when trailing by at least four runs for the sixth time this season; they did not do it once last year.

“We can score runs in bunches because we have some guys who can hit,” Jeter said.

Joe Kennedy (4-4) took a 5-4 lead into the seventh, and Miguel Cairo led off with a double for the third of his career high-tying four hits.

Jeter followed by lining a full-count pitch over the center-field fence for his eighth homer, and he responded to a standing ovation by taking a curtain call. Jeter connected on the 10th pitch of the at-bat. It made him 10-for-21 with three homers against Kennedy.

“At first, I was trying to move the guy over,” Jeter said. “He made some tough pitches, and I was able to foul them off. I was seeing the ball good tonight.”

With the crowd of 38,013 still cheering, Williams homered into the right-field seats.

Paul Quantrill (5-2) pitched one inning and got the victory. Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his 25th save in 26 chances.

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said it was a tough loss at the end of a difficult day. His grandfather was buried in the afternoon.

“From here on in, I’ve made a little promise to him. As long as I’m given the opportunity to do this, it’s going to be either a win or loss, and we’re going to move on from there.”

Brown began the second by walking Vinny Castilla, the first walk allowed by Yankees starters in four games. Singles by Jeromy Burnitz and Matt Holliday made it 1-0, and rookie Choo Freeman hit an RBI single, with another run scoring on Sheffield’s throwing error from right field.

Aaron Miles added an RBI single in the hole—Jeter left the spot vacant when he ran to second, anticipating a pickoff throw—and Brown was done after retiring Royce Clayton to end the inning.

Tanyon Sturtze relieved to begin the third and walked Mark Sweeney with the bases loaded to make it 5-0. Todd Greene followed by grounding into a double play, limiting the damage. Sturtze pitched four effective innings.

Kennedy’s throwing error set up the Yankees’ four-run rally in the third.

With two on and none out, Kennedy fielded Williams’ one-hopper, whirled and threw to second base. But instead of Colorado getting an easy double play, the ball split the Rockies’ middle infielders and a run scored.

Alex Rodriguez followed with a sacrifice fly and Sheffield hit a two-runhomer off the left-field foul screen, pulling New York to 5-4.

Notes

The Rockies were the only team in major league baseball that had never held a lead at Yankee Stadium in a game that counted until Holliday’s RBI single. Many NL clubs such as San Diego and Arizona did it in the World Series. … Rodriguez singled his first time up, reaching base safely for the 46th straight game. … Burnitz has a 13-game hitting streak, one short of hiscareer high.

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