Yankees 7, Diamondbacks 2

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NEW YORK (AP)—Yankees manager Joe Torre knew exactly what to do after he lifted Mike Mussina in the eighth inning Wednesday night.

“I said, ‘I got you tired this time,”’ Torre recalled, “and he had a little smile on his face.”

Mussina earned his first win in more than a month, Alex Rodriguez hit his major league-leading 25th homer and New York beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-2 to extend its season-high winning streak to eight.

Hideki Matsui hit a three-run drive and Jorge Posada also connected for New York (32-31), which has won 11 of 13 to move above .500 for the first time since it was 8-7 on April 20.

“There is a lot of confidence in this clubhouse,” Rodriguez said. “It starts with the pitching and defense obviously, and timely hitting.”

Mussina (3-3) allowed two runs and six hits in 7 2-3 innings to earn his first win since beating Texas on May 9. He also became the first major league pitcher with 20 interleague wins, running his record to 20-10 in 40 starts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Mussina, who was 0-2 with three no-decisions over his previous five starts, yielded one run in six innings in his previous start against the Chicago White Sox but was lifted after just 79 pitches. Mussina said he was disappointed about being pulled, leading to a discussion between the pitcher and Torre.

Mussina wondered whether he needed to earn back Torre’s trust, but the manager said he explained that it was simply a strategic move.

There was no problem against the Diamondbacks, with Mussina throwing 101 pitches and getting plenty of support from New York’s surging lineup. The Yankee Stadium crowd serenaded Mussina with chants of “Moooose” when he departed after a two-out single in the eighth, and the right-hander acknowledged the standing ovation with a wave.

“It was a good night to get up to 100 or so and felt like I could do mostly what I wanted to do,” Mussina said. “Threw a lot of strikes, got a lot of breaking balls over, and when you get seven runs to work with, you don’t worry so much about the solo home runs.”

Brian Bruney and Mike Myers finished up.

Mussina finished with a season-high seven strikeouts in his 242nd win, moving into sole possession of 50th place on the career list. Juan Marichal is 49th with 243 wins.

“I’m really happy for him because I know that he’s such a perfectionist that when it’s not going the way he feels it should, with his stuff, then he really fights himself,” Torre said. “But tonight was good.”

Posada led off the second inning with his eighth homer and the 206th of his career, moving him into ninth place on the Yankees’ list. Posada’s drive gave him one more than Dave Winfield.

“When a team is on a roll, the ones they hit hard find seats and the ones they don’t find holes,” Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said.

With a runner on first in the third, Rodriguez hit Livan Hernandez’s pitch off the facade of the upper deck in left to make it 3-1. Rodriguez, who also singled in a run in the fourth, is batting .357 (15-for-42) with six homers and 21 RBIs in 12 games this month.

Hernandez (5-4) departed after allowing four runs in the fourth. He walked five and gave up nine hits.

“Seven runs in four innings is ridiculous,” Hernandez said. “Every mistake I made this game, they hit.”

Conor Jackson homered and Chris Young hit a sacrifice fly for Arizona, which has lost five of six.


Arizona LHP Doug Slaten was struck on the right hand by a batted ball during BP on Tuesday. The hand was bandaged Wednesday, but Slaten said he was OK. … Yankees RF Bobby Abreu singled in the fourth inning to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. He also scored his 1,000th career run. … Greg Maddux, Freddy Garcia and Aaron Sele have 19 career interleague wins. … Johnny Damon was back in CF for New York after nine straight starts at designated hitter. Damon has been bothered by sore legs this season but said he felt good before the game. “We need to play Johnny in the outfield every once in a while anyway, just to keep him going there,” Torre said.

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