CLEVELAND (AP)—Old Man Johnson looked like a youngster for seven innings. He didn’t show his age until the eighth.
Randy Johnson, at times as dominant as he has been all season, worked into the eighth and Jason Giambi and Derek Jeter both had three RBIs, leading the New York Yankees to a 10-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night.
Johnson (10-7) allowed three runs and seven hits in 7 2-3 innings. The five-time Cy Young Award winner picked up his 273rd career win, moving him into a tie for 30th place with Red Ruffing.
In his first start at Jacobs Field since 1998, Johnson walked none and struck out five. He took a 10-1 lead into the eighth before tiring, but improved to 13-4 in his career against the Indians.
Johnson reminded reporters that he’s not the pitcher he once was.
“I’m 42 years old, so I’m happy just to win games,” Johnson said, directing more than a hint of sarcasm at New York reporters. “We all know that I’m really old. I’m not happy.”
It was a better outing than his last start against Cleveland on June 14, when Johnson was ejected in the seventh inning of a 6-1 win for throwing at former Cleveland first baseman Eduardo Perez. The next day, Major League Baseball slapped him with a five-game suspension.
This time, Johnson dealt the punishment.
“He was terrific,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “He gave us what we needed and we gave him some runs to work with.”
Still, Johnson was not completely pleased with his outing.
“I’m not happy,” he said. “It went from two hits to seven, from one run to four. I could be content with that, but I’m competitive.”
The Yankees split the four-game series, winning the final two after dropping the opener and then losing 19-1 on Tuesday night, matching the second-most lopsided defeat in New York’s storied history.
Giambi hit a two-run homer in the first off Cliff Lee (8-6) and Jeter had two RBI singles and a sacrifice fly.
Lee lost for the first time in seven starts since May 29, allowing four earned runs and 10 hits in six innings. He was hurt by Cleveland’s defense, which had two errors and has allowed 10 unearned runs in the past three games.
Manager Eric Wedge has run out of patience.
“My frustration level is off the map,” Wedge said. “It’s about one one-hundreth of what you’re seeing. I’ve yelled. I’ve talked. I’ve reasoned. I’ve taken about every approach I can take.
“There are no excuses. I don’t care if 100 mph wind comes blowing at you when you’re hitting, that’s your responsibility. If you made an out, you made an out. I’ve heard things this season that I think are pathetic. I don’t mind saying it. I’ve told them the same thing.”
Jason Michaels homered for the Indians, who went 3-4 against New York and haven’t won a season series against the Yankees since 1992.
For the first four innings, Johnson, who pitched a perfect game on May 18, 2004, for Arizona, looked like he might flirt with another. Torre wasn’t the only one with visions of an historic night.
“Oh yeah,” Torre said when asked if he thought Johnson had no-hit stuff. “He can go out there shut you down in a heartbeat and pitch a no-hitter any time.”
With the setting sun casting a shadow across the back of the mound, the 42-year-old lefty easily retired Cleveland’s first 12 hitters. He struck out four, got two outs on comebackers and didn’t allow the Indians to get good wood on anything.
Johnson, who has had an erratic season, struck out Travis Hafner his first time up, but leading off the fifth, Cleveland’s designated hitter dropped a 2-2 pitch into left field for the Indians’ first hit.
Johnson got a double play to get out of the inning, and then retired five straight before Michaels connected on a 3-2 pitch for his sixth homer with one out in the seventh.
In the fourth, Jeter doubled and Giambi, who grounded into a double play his first time up, followed with his 26th homer. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Giambi, who had three homers in the series, is the fourth Yankees player since 1961 to hit 25 homers in New York’s first 81 games.
Two errors by the Indians, who had three Wednesday, helped New York score three unearned runs in the fifth and open a 5-0 lead.
Yankees OF Johnny Damon sat out with an abdominal pull that could keep sidelined for a few more days. Torre said the club will be cautious with Damon, who is hoping to be able to swing pain free on Friday. “I’m not counting on it,” Torre said. “He was feeling it pretty good today.” … Johnson (4,449) is closing in on Roger Clemens (4,509) for second place on the career strikeout list behind Nolan Ryan (5,714). … Hafner, running on the “Vote Pronk” ticket, finished third in fan online voting for the final roster spot on the AL All-Star team. Chicago C A.J. Pierzynski won with 3.6 million votes to edge Minnesota pitcher Francisco Liriano. … Tino Martinez (27 in 1997), Roger Maris (32 in 1961) and Mickey Mantle (29 in 1961) are the only Yankees to hit more homers than Giambi in the season’s first half.