Yankees 6, Cubs 3
NEW YORK (AP)—Mike Mussina’s bright yellow T-shirt hardly seemed appropriate. Written across the chest was “Chico’s Bail Bonds,” sponsor of the most famous fictional Little League team in Hollywood history.
Funny, because these days the New York Yankees don’t resemble the Bad News Bears at all. Not anymore, at least.
Mussina won his third straight start, Alex Rodriguez got a big hit with the bases loaded and the suddenly surging Yankees polished off a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs with a 6-3 victory Sunday.
“A good team always bounces back,” reliever Tom Gordon said. “To me, we just had a couple bumps in the road.”
Next up is a four-game set against Tampa Bay, which has the worst record in the AL. But the Yankees, up and down all season, know they can’t afford to relax.
“I’m not anointing this club,” manager Joe Torre said. “I think we have to constantly prove ourselves—to ourselves.”
Jeromy Burnitz homered and Todd Walker drove in two runs for the slumping Cubs, who have lost four in a row and six of seven. They dropped to 0-7 at Yankee Stadium, having been swept by New York in the World Series in 1932 and 1938.
The Yankees took advantage of Chicago’s depleted pitching staff, outscoring the Cubs 23-10 in the series. Chicago has given up 55 runs in its last six losses.
“A rough series for us,” Burnitz said.
Coming off a five-hit shutout of Pittsburgh that began the winning streak, Mussina (8-4) gave up two runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings. He walked off the mound to a standing ovation from a Father’s Day sellout crowd of 55,060.
“You’re not going to go out there every day with your best stuff. Today was a lot of work,” Mussina said. “I’m just glad we got it going in the right direction. This time, hopefully we can keep it in the right direction.”
Tanyon Sturtze escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh by getting Neifi Perez to ground into a 1-2-3 double play. With the sacks full again in the eighth, defensive replacement Tino Martinez made a diving play at first base on Walker’s RBI groundout.
Gordon then struck out Michael Barrett to end the inning and preserve a 6-3 lead. Mariano Rivera got three outs for his 16th save in 18 chances. He has converted 16 consecutive opportunities since blowing saves in each of his first two outings this year against Boston.
“I thought I threw the ball pretty good today. Some groundballs got through, and I left some pitches up,” Mitre said. “You get excited just to go up against that team, against Mussina.”
Burnitz hit an opposite-field homer leading off the second inning, his 12th of the season. The Yankees tied it in the third on Sheffield’s RBI single, ending Mitre’s 18-inning scoreless streak.
Chicago got a two-out RBI single from Walker in the fourth, but Barrett lined out to third with runners at the corners, and New York went ahead for good with four runs in the bottom half.
Cano had an RBI single, and Tony Womack hit a sacrifice fly. With two outs and the bases loaded, Rodriguez hit a sinking liner to the glove side of shortstop Perez, who could have made the play. But the 2000 Gold Glove winner reacted slowly, and the ball skipped into left-center for a two-run single.
Rodriguez is 4-for-8 with 11 RBIs with the bases loaded this season.
He reached on a two-out error by Perez in the sixth—also a ball to his left—and stole second. Matsui’s RBI single gave the Yankees a 6-2 lead.
In addition to his troubles in the field, Perez went 0-for-14 at the plate during the series.
“I know he needs a blow, but with the guys we had pitching, I need his defense,” manager Dusty Baker said.
RHP Jerome Williams will be called up from Triple-A Iowa to start for the Cubs on Tuesday night in Milwaukee. … RHP Kerry Wood (right shoulder strain) was scheduled to make a rehabilitation start Sunday night for Iowa. He probably will make one more before coming off the disabled list, pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. … LHP Sean Henn was recalled from Triple-A Columbus and will start for the Yankees on Monday night against Tampa Bay in place of injured Kevin Brown. … The only other time the Cubs were swept this season was May 3-5 in Milwaukee. … The 24-year-old Mitre won his two previous starts, allowing just seven hits in 16 scoreless innings. He was coming off his first career shutout, a five-hitter against Florida.