Yankees 8, Cubs 1

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NEW YORK (AP)—When Derek Jeter walked to home plate with the bases loaded in the sixth inning Saturday, he had gone 5,770 at-bats over 11 major league seasons without a grand slam.

“I thought I’d never hit one,” he said.

Jeter finally filled one of the few gaps in his resume, connecting off Chicago Cubs reliever Joe Borowski for a home run to left-center that broke the game open. Cheered even more loudly than usual by the Yankees fans who idolize him, Jeter added a solo shot in the eighth, backing a stellar start by rookie Chien-Ming Wang in an 8-1 victory that extended New York’s winning streak to five.

It was Jeter’s first home run in 136 at-bats and 155 plate appearances with the bases loaded. The Yankees captain had the most at-bats with the bases loaded without a slam among current major leaguers, and his 156 homers coming in were the most without a slam by active big leaguers.

His teammates wouldn’t let him forget that.

“It’s usually after I get out. I’d come back and they’d say, `Well, we thought you were going to hit one,”’ Jeter recalled.

He had been aware of his grand slam drought since April 22, 2002. Mark McLemore hit his first one in his 5,349th at-bat and told Jeter about the stat when the Yankees arrived in Seattle four days later.

Philadelphia’s David Bell, who hasn’t homered in 118 at-bats with the bases loaded, now has the longest drought, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Tampa Bay’s Alex Gonzalez has the most homers without a slam, 132.

“I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t feel good right now,” Jeter said.

Fans demanded a curtain call, and Jeter was given another standing ovation when he went out to shortstop for the seventh as third baseman Alex Rodriguez gave him a pat on the rear. With his name being chanted loudly in the eighth, Jeter hit a leadoff homer off Cliff Bartosh, a drive just over the wall in right-center. Jeter tied his career high of five RBIs and had the seventh multihomer game of his career.

“You have to just push him out there to take a bow,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Coming off his worst start last weekend at St. Louis, Wang (4-2) limited the Cubs to five hits in eight innings, including a sixth-inning homer by Jason Dubois.

“It looked like he went into the game with a little more aggressiveness today, a lot of determination,” pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said. “He’s very sure of himself now. His confidence level is at a peak.”

Tanyon Sturtze finished with a hitless ninth. The hot-and-cold Yankees are 5-0 and have outscored opponents 39-13 since returning from a 3-9 road trip. After opening the season 11-19 for their worst start since 1966, they won 16 of 18, then lost 11 of 14 before the current spurt.

“We’re gradually getting our confidence back,” Torre said.

Glendon Rusch (5-3) lost his second straight start, giving up five runs— four earned—and nine hits in five-plus innings. He is 0-7 against the Yankees.

Chicago has lost three straight overall and dropped to 0-6 at Yankee Stadium. The Cubs swept by New York in the World Series in 1932 and 1938 and did not return to the Bronx until Friday night.

“The Yankees the last couple of days here have been pretty much unstoppable,” Todd Walker said.

New York built a 3-0 lead on Rodriguez’s RBI single in the first, consecutive doubles by Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada in the fourth and Gary Sheffield’s run-scoring single in the fifth.

Rusch walked Posada leading off the sixth and gave up a single to Bernie Williams. Rich Hill relieved and struck out Tino Martinez, then loaded the bases with a walk to Robinson Cano. Cubs manager Dusty Baker brought in Borowski.

“I thought he was the best guy out there to try to get a double play, a sinker-slider guy who keeps the ball down,” Baker said.

Borowski fell behind Jeter 2-0 and threw a called strike before allowing the second slam of his career.

“I tried to throw a pitch down and away. Unfortunately, it came back over the plate,” Borowski said. “Hopefully, Dusty won’t hold this against me, and I’ll get more work down the road.”

Jeter, meanwhile, tried to figure out how his teammates would kid him next.

“I’m sure they’ll probably come up with another one—longest between grand slams,” he said.

Notes

Chicago’s Derrek Lee went 2-for-4, raising his major league-leading average to .387. … Borowski also gave up a slam to Pittsburgh’s Rob Mackowiak on May 28 last year. … Cubs RHP Kerry Wood (right shoulder strain) was scheduled to make a rehabilitation start Sunday for Triple-A Iowa. RHP Mark Prior, who threw about 45 pitches in a simulated game Friday, planned to throw another simulated game Sunday at Yankee Stadium. … New York RHP Kevin Brown (back spasms) went on the disabled list for the 13th time. Rookie LHP Sean Henn will start in his place Monday against Tampa Bay.

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