Yankees 9, Diamondbacks 4

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PHOENIX (AP)—Bernie Williams, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are connecting at the plate, so of course the New York Yankees are winning.

The top three hitters in the star-studded Yankees batting order homered and New York won for the 18th time in 21 games, 9-4 over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night.

“That’s the way this team is,” said the Yankees’ Tanyon Sturtze, who started in place of injured Kevin Brown and got the victory. “They can put them up quickly, and you never know when it’s going to happen.”

Williams was moved into the leadoff spot for the first time since 1996 two weeks ago, with Jeter moving down to No. 2. On Wednesday, Williams hit his first leadoff home run in nine years.

“I really don’t know what I’m doing because I’ve had them reversed for the longest time,” manager Joe Torre said. “Bernie just seems to be thriving in the leadoff spot. He doesn’t mind taking pitches. He’s got a real good feel, good body language. He’s got a lot of life in his body right now.”

Rodriguez reached base safely for the 52nd consecutive game—15 more than his previous career best.

The streak is the longest in a single season for New York since Jeter had a 53-game run to start the 1999 season.

Jeter went 2-for-4, is 5-for-8 in the series and is hitting .463 (19-for-42) in his last 11 games, snapping out of his awful start to the season.

“You always want to be successful but you’ve got to keep things in perspective,” Jeter said. “Like I said back then, we’ve got a lot of games to play. It’s a long season. You can’t let a couple of weeks get you down.”

The Yankees have won four in a row and 12 of 14 to climb a major league-best 21 games above .500 and build their biggest lead yet over Boston in the AL East—5 1/2 games.

“We’ve been playing well for a while now,” Jeter said. “We have a bunch of guys that can hit and pretty much everybody is swinging the bat well right now.”

The Diamondbacks committed four errors, two on consecutive plays by shortstop Alex Cintron allowing two unearned runs. The Yankees are tough enough without giving them extra at-bats, Arizona manager Bob Brenly said.

“You let that conga keep coming up there to the plate with runners on base and bad things are going to happen,” Brenly said.

New York jumped on Casey Fossum for four runs in the first inning, beginning with Williams’ first leadoff home run since 1995. Jeter singled, then Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi walked to load the bases.

Jorge Posada lined a drive that took a bad hop and careened off third baseman Chad Tracy’s head into the Arizona dugout for a ground-rule double to bring in two runs. Hideki Matsui singled in the fourth run of the inning.

Rodriguez’s 15th homer of the season, into the Diamondbacks bullpen, made it 5-0 in the second.

“It’s just tough,” Fossum said. “You can’t afford to walk anybody because there’s always someone better on deck.”

Fossum (1-5) allowed eight runs, six earned, in 4 2-3 innings.

“They just never let him get comfortable out there,” Brenly said. “They didn’t even give him a chance to establish anything. They were hitting anything they saw close to the strike zone.”

Sturtze (2-0), in his first start for the Yankees, gave up three runs on six hits in six innings and retired the last 10 he faced.

The Diamondbacks cut the lead to 5-3 in the third. Scott Hairston barely beat out a double down the right-field line, then Steve Finley, Shea Hillenbrand and Cintron had RBI singles before Doug DeVore grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Jeter’s towering homer to left put the Yankees up 6-3 in the fifth, then Cintron committed consecutive fielding errors with the bases loaded and two outs in the same inning to allow two unearned runs in and make it 8-3.

The Diamondbacks have made six errors in their two losses to New York.

Tim Olson hit his first major league homer off Bret Prinz in the ninth.


Arizona OF Danny Bautista sat out the game after being hit in the back of the head in the first inning Tuesday night. … New York has won 17 of 18 interleague games, seven of eight this season. … Rodriguez took a shot to the midsection in the third when he caught Tracy’s pop foul as he ran into the railing in front of the Arizona dugout. … The Diamondbacks have shown interest in free agent RHP Mike Fetters, who had a workout Wednesday that drew several teams. Fetters, 39, was with Minnesota last year but spent most of the season on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring and elbowdiscomfort. He had surgery on his right elbow Aug. 8.

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