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Giambi's two HRs support Mussina's 2-hitter

9/24/2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- Joe Torre only hesitated for a moment when asked
which was the bigger deal: Jason Giambi's two homers or Mike Mussina's two-hitter.

"The best thing tonight? Probably Giambi swinging the bat well,'' the Yankees manager said. "He's been struggling a little, and him swinging the bat is important for me.''

Giambi went 4-for-4 and hit his 39th and 40th homers to back Mussina's overpowering pitching as New York defeated the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6-0 Tuesday night.

Giambi hit two-run homers in his first two at-bats, taking over the team lead from Alfonso Soriano. Giambi reached 40 homers for the second time in his career, the other coming in 2000 when he had 43. He also had two sharply hit singles.

Mussina (17-10) struck out a season-high 12 in his second shutout this season. He blanked Boston 7-0 on three hits Aug. 28.

"What Moose did didn't surprise me,'' Torre said. "But Giambi nursing a (bad) back, you're not sure how good he feels until he hits the ball like he did tonight.''

Mussina allowed only a second-inning single to Aubrey Huff and a fifth-inning bloop hit to Toby Hall, and struck out the final three batters in the sixth after Hall reached following a walk to Ben Grieve.

Raul Mondesi added a two-run double and Bernie Williams had his
200th hit of the season the Yankees, who snapped a four-game
homerless drought -- their longest since 1998.

Giambi, who missed three games last weekend because of a stiff
back, went 0-for-4 in his first game back Monday night. He quickly
showed that he would not repeat that performance, homering over the
wall in left-center in his first at-bat after Derek Jeter was hit
by a pitch from Devil Rays starter Travis Harper (5-9).

After Jeter singled in the third, Giambi hit a ball to deep
right-center that barely cleared the outstretched glove of center
fielder Randy Winn. It was Giambi's 19th career two-homer game.

"I needed a game to get back on track,'' said Giambi, who compared the difference in his pain levels over the previous 48 hours "from having a knife in my back to being relaxed.''

Mondesi's two-run double came after Williams doubled and Jorge
Posada and Robin Ventura walked.

Mussina, spotting his fastball on the corners to get ahead in
the count and then finishing off several hitters with breaking
balls, struck out three batters in the fifth and two batters in the
second, third and eighth innings.

"It's gratifying to finally get things straightened out,'' said
Mussina, who did not have a complete game until his 27th start of
the season. "It was frustrating for a long period of time.''

Game notes
Giambi and his brother, Jeremy, who has 20 homers for
Philadelphia and Oakland, have broken the record for most homers by
brothers in one season. Joe DiMaggio (46) and his brother Vince
(13) combined for 59 in 1937. ... Soriano went 0-for-5, flying out
to deep left-center in the third, to remain stuck on 39 homers. He
is trying to become the fourth player in major league history with
40 homers and 40 stolen bases.... Williams also reached 200 hits in
1999. ... Mussina had his 35th career game with 10 strikeouts or
more. ... Harper failed to make it into the fifth inning for the
third consecutive start. He allowed eight hits in three innings
Sept. 6 against Texas and 10 hits in four innings Aug. 31 against
the Rangers.