NEW YORK (AP) -- Nick Johnson's patience rewarded the fans who
stayed to the end.
Johnson hit a game-winning single with two outs in the bottom of
the 11th inning as the New York Yankees held off the Baltimore
Orioles to win 5-4 Wednesday night.
Johnson's hit came with the stands less than half full of the
35,183 fans who witnessed a pregame ceremony remembering the
anniversary of the terrorist attacks here.
The Yankees dedicated a monument in Monument Park to the
"victims and heroes'' of Sept. 11 before the game, which started
just before 8 p.m. The dignified proceedings included saxophonist
Branford Marsalis playing "Taps'' -- a moment that brought tears
from some in the crowd, including Yankees manager Joe Torre.
"You remember what happened here and all the people who were
involved, all the heroes who were involved,'' winning pitcher Steve
Karsay said. "You say a prayer for them and then try to go out and
do your job''
Once the ceremonies were over, the Stadium returned to business
as usual. The groundskeepers cavorted as usual to "YMCA'' as they
dragged the basepaths after the fifth inning, and fans rocked to
"Cotton Eye Joe'' in the eighth.
The Yankees won it in the 11th, reducing their magic number to
nine for clinching their fifth straight AL East title.
Rick Bauer (6-7) walked Jorge Posada with one out, and was
relieved by B.J. Ryan, who struck out pinch-hitter John Vander Wal
and walked Raul Mondesi. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch
before Ryan gave up Johnson's hit up the middle.
"The last couple of at-bats against a lefty, I was lunging
forward,'' Johnson said. "I just tried to stay back on the ball.''
The loudest cheers of the night, though, came when Torre was
ejected in the ninth inning. Torre's ejection, his second this
season, came after Robin Ventura was ejected by plate umpire Angel
Hernandez for arguing a called third strike.
"My problem was that he threw him out so quickly,'' Torre said.
"He had a little bit of a short fuse. I was going to stay out
there until he threw me out, I guess.''
Karsay (7-4) pitched a scoreless 11th for the win. Last year,
when baseball returned to New York after the attacks, Karsay also
pitched, but he lost in his home borough of Queens, giving up a
monster home run to the Mets' Mike Piazza.
"It was a lot more emotional and a lot more traumatic than this
year. Once you got through all the ceremonies,'' Karsay said about
Wednesday night, "it still had the feel of a normal game.''
The Orioles have lost 17 of their last 18 games. They had
runners on first and second in the top of the 11th against Karsay,
but Geronimo Gil grounded out to end the inning.
"It's frustrating,'' said Melvin Mora, who was stranded on
first. "We had a chance to win. We didn't produce. That's not the
way we're supposed to be.''
The Yankees took a 4-0 lead on Ventura's solo homer in the
second and Alfonso Soriano's three-run shot in the third. Soriano's
homer was his 36th of the season, tying the AL record for homers by
a second baseman set by Seattle's Bret Boone last season.
The Yankees' 65-inning walkless streak ended in a bizarre way.
After leadoff hitter Chris Richard fouled off a 3-2 pitch in the
eighth inning, Hernandez licked his fingers while still on the
mound, causing Angel Hernandez to call a ball.
The streak was the longest since before World War II, according
to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Hernandez allowed four runs and seven hits in 7 1/3 innings.
The game, like every other night game in the majors, was halted
at 9:11 p.m. for a moment of reflection and a video tribute. The
pause came during Soriano's at-bat in the bottom of the fifth
Torre said he couldn't look away from his TV Wednesday
morning, as he watched the reading of the names of the 2,801 who
died at the World Trade Center. "You found yourself getting out of
bed and turning the TV on and knowing a year ago this minute, the
first plane hit,'' Torre said. He said he watched to see the name
of John Francis Swaine, the son of Yankees' executive Frank Swaine.
One of John's daughters threw out the first pitch. ... Frequent
chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!'' erupted from the crowd. ... The Orioles
signed C Raul Casanova to a major league contract and had him in
uniform for Wednesday night's game. Baltimore also activated OF
Gary Matthews Jr. from the DL.