Yankees 12, Royals 5

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NEW YORK (AP)—One day as the designated hitter did wonders for Gary Sheffield.

The Yankees’ slugger broke out of an early slump with a homer and four RBIs, and Shawn Chacon overcame a shaky start to earn his first win of the season in New York’s 12-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.

While many of his teammates started strong, Sheffield entered hitting only .207 with one homer and four RBIs. He got some encouraging advice before the game from batting coach Don Mattingly and Yankees special adviser Reggie Jackson, plus a bit of a break from Joe Torre.

The manager put the 37-year-old Sheffield in the DH spot and gave Bernie Williams his first start in right field since Aug. 6, 1992.

“It did help. I didn’t have to think about defense,” Sheffield said. “I felt good today. I felt strong in my last at-bat.”

Jason Giambi had a pair of RBI doubles, Derek Jeter scored three times and Sheffield finished with three hits as New York tagged Royals starter Jeremy Affeldt (0-1).

“Every once in a while I want to do this,” Torre said. “I know he appreciates it.”

The Yankees have scored in double digits three times in eight games this year, plus a 9-7 win over Kansas City in their home opener Tuesday. They’ve totaled 31 runs in winning three straight overall.

Reggie Sanders homered for the second consecutive day for the Royals, who dropped their 13th consecutive game at Yankee Stadium—a skid that dates to August 2002.

It is New York’s longest home winning streak against any opponent since the Yankees won 19 in a row in the Bronx against the Cleveland Indians from 1960-62.

Chacon (1-1) allowed three runs in the first inning, then settled down. He gave up five runs and seven hits in six-plus innings, striking out five.

“With a team like this, you don’t panic,” Chacon said. “I got rewarded for keeping the game close.”

Sanders hit a two-run shot in the first, the first time the Royals scored first in seven games this season. Emil Brown added a two-out RBI double, twisting Johnny Damon around in deep center.

Chacon regrouped after that, retiring 11 of his next 12 hitters.

Handed a 3-0 lead, Affeldt walked his first two batters, a cardinal sin that must have left Royals manager Buddy Bell and maybe even his own fielders stewing.

“That’s not very good,” Bell said. “It’s hard to elaborate on that, other than to say it’s hard to win doing that for a lot of different reasons. You’re in the field a long time, you’re giving them opportunities. You know going in that they make you throw strikes.”

Sheffield then smashed a vicious line drive that nearly nailed 60-year-old third base coach Larry Bowa, who quickly dove to the ground in foul territory just in time. Bowa turned to the crowd and shrugged his shoulders as Sheffield smiled from the edge of the batters’ box.

“It was coming right at my head,” Bowa said. “He scares me. … I don’t know where to go.”

Sheffield drove the next pitch over the left-field fence for a three-run shot that tied the score. It was his 451st career homer.

“My mechanics are so screwed up, there’s nothing you can really tell me. Just stay back,” Sheffield said. “When I’m killin’ people in the stands, that’s no good.

“Try to use the whole field, that’s when I’m at my best,” he added. “I knew right there I was flying open, so I just closed up a bit.”

In Affeldt’s previous start against the White Sox, the first five Chicago batters scored.

Alex Rodriguez singled, stole second and scored on Jorge Posada’s two-out single in the third. Sheffield added an RBI single in the fourth, and another run scored on Jimmy Gobble’s wild pitch.

Kansas City cut it to 6-5 in the fifth on consecutive RBI doubles by Mark Grudzielanek and Doug Mientkiewicz, but New York got run-scoring singles in the bottom half from Miguel Cairo and Damon.

Giambi’s run-scoring double in the sixth made it 9-5. Jeter had a two-out RBI single in the seventh, a run scored on an error by shortstop Angel Berroa and Giambi delivered another RBI double.

So far, Kansas City’s plan to make Affeldt a starter again isn’t working. The left-hander gave up six runs, seven hits and four walks in 3 1-3 innings, leaving him with a 14.73 ERA after two outings.

Every New York starter had at least one hit. Royals pitchers have walked 17 batters in the past two games.

“I think we have to challenge guys a little more,” Mientkiewicz said. “I know they have a lot of good hitters, but you have to go after them. You can’t get caught up in the names on the back of the jerseys. I know it seems like nine MVP guys, but you can’t get caught up in that.”


Royals DH Mike Sweeney sat out after he was hit in the right hand by a pitch from Mariano Rivera on Tuesday. Sweeney is not expected to play until at least Friday night at Tampa Bay. … Yankees LF Hideki Matsui has a career-best 15-game hitting streak dating to last season. … The Yankees have won 21 of 23 against Kansas City at home since the start of the 2000 season.

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