Yankees 6, Indians 4

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CLEVELAND (AP)—Gary Sheffield hit another clutch homer and Derek Jeter learned his elbow is just bruised.

Not a bad night for the struggling New York Yankees.

Sheffield’s tiebreaking, two-run shot in the ninth inning sent the fading Cleveland Indians to their eighth straight loss, 6-4 Monday night.

The Yankees stopped a slide of their own, winning for only the second time in eight games and snapping a three-game losing streak.

Jeter came out in the ninth after he was hit on the left elbow by a pitch from Bob Wickman. Jeter winced in pain and let his limp arm dangle by his side before being helped to the dugout by a trainer.

He went to the hospital for X-rays, which were negative, but not before Sheffield homered.

“It still hurt. But it’s a big win for us,” Jeter said, grinning. He returned to the clubhouse after the game expects to play Tuesday night.

Enrique Wilson pinch ran for Jeter, and Sheffield followed with his 32nd homer, just over the 19-foot high wall in left.

Manager Joe Torre marveled at Sheffield, who has been battling shoulder problems.

“He’s been incredible. The only thing that keeps you from saying it’s impossible is he keeps doing it,” Torre said.

Third baseman Alex Rodriguez moved to shortstop in the bottom of the ninth and Sheffield went from right field to third base, the second time this year the Yankees have used that alignment after Jeter got hurt. The other came in a 13-inning victory over Boston when Jeter hurtled headfirst into the stands to make a clutch catch.

“He came in and hit the home run. I said he earned the right to play third base,” Torre said of Sheffield.

Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth for his 42nd save in 45 chances.

New York extended its lead over Boston to 6 1/2 games in the AL East after the Red Sox lost 3-0 in Toronto. The Yankees had lost six of seven, trimming their edge by five games after leading by a season-high 10 1/2 games on Aug. 15.

Wickman (0-1) got the first two outs in the ninth, but got hit on the fingers by Bernie Williams’ grounder. Wickman then hit Jeter with a 1-1 sinker.

Wickman said he wasn’t hurt and took the blame for the loss.

“I blew the game tonight,” he said. “I let the team down and lost the game. This was a big game to get us out of the streak.”

The Indians are on their longest losing streak of the season, falling back to .500 and eight games behind first-place Minnesota in the AL Central.

“It’s tough,” manager Eric Wedge said. “We have to stay strong as individuals and stay strong as a team. You can’t let a bad day or a bad week defeat you.”

Tom Gordon (5-3) blew a lead in the eighth but still got the win.

Ruben Sierra’s eighth-inning RBI single gave New York a 4-3 lead. But the Indians’ staged a two-out rally in the bottom half.

Travis Hafner doubled to right-center and Casey Blake followed with a first-pitch RBI single, scoring pinch-runner John McDonald.

Tony Clark put the Yankees on top 3-0 in the second with his 12th homer. But the Indians came right back in the bottom half on Ronnie Belliard’s two-run single.

Jody Gerut tied it with an RBI triple off the center-field wall in the fourth.

Neither starter pitched well, but they kept their teams in the game by preventing any big rallies.

Cliff Lee, who hasn’t won since July 16, went six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and three walks. He struck out four for Cleveland.

Mike Mussina lasted just five innings in his second start since returning from the disabled list.

He gave up three runs on four hits and three walks, striking out six. He threw 59 pitches in two innings and finished with 94 pitches.

Williams doubled off the left-field wall to open the game. Jeter followed with an RBI single, then Sheffield walked.

But Lee struck out Rodriguez and got Jorge Posada to hit into a double play.

Notes

The Yankees are 32-16 at Jacobs Field since it opened 1994. … Clark hadn’t played in the previous eight games. … Hafner ended an 0-for-19 skid with a single in the sixth and a double in the eighth. … Rodriguez was 1-for-4 and is 3-for-14 in his last four games. He failed to hit the ball out of the infield. Torre said before the game that he’s putting too much pressure on himself. … Indians C Victor Martinez is 0-for-14.

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