BALTIMORE (AP) -- Their spot in the playoffs is assured, yet
home-field advantage is still up for grabs.
So the New York Yankees aren't letting up. Not even a little
bit. Bernie Williams got his 100th RBI, Derek Jeter homered and Andy Pettitte won his fifth straight start as New York beat the
Baltimore Orioles 6-2 Friday night. Jason Giambi had three hits and collected his 119th RBI to help
the Yankees maintain their slim lead over Oakland for best record
in the AL and home-field advantage in the playoffs. New York is
101-58; Oakland improved to 101-59 with a 3-2 victory over Texas. "We're still going hard,'' said Pettitte, who threw five
shutout innings. "There is a lot to play for; we haven't clinched
anything yet. We're trying to win out the season.'' It was the 10th straight loss for the Orioles, who are 4-30
since Aug. 23. Baltimore avoided its 16th shutout of the season
when Jay Gibbons hit an RBI double in a two-run ninth off Steve
Karsay. Sidney Ponson (7-9) allowed two runs in seven-plus innings, but
absorbed his fourth straight loss. Baltimore scored three runs in
his final four starts. "I'm about to explode. I'm not going to lie,'' the right-hander
said. In his final start before the playoffs, Pettitte (13-5) allowed
three hits and two walks. He struck out five. Yankees manager Joe Torre said before the game that Pettitte
would go five innings. The left-hander threw only 70 pitches, but
improved to 9-1 in his last 11 starts. "He gave us what we needed,'' Torre said. "That was a nice
little tuneup.'' Orlando Hernandez pitched two innings, and Mariano Rivera and
Karsay threw an inning apiece. With two outs in the sixth inning of a scoreless game, Giambi
singled on an 0-2 pitch from Ponson. He then advanced on a wild
pitch and scored when Williams bounced a single up the middle. Williams, Giambi and Alfonso Soriano all have at least 100 RBI
and 100 runs scored. It's the fifth time in franchise history, and
the first since 1932, that three players have done it in the same
season. New York is intent upon winning, but individual numbers are also
important to the Yankees in the final days of the regular season. "It's the reward for working hard all year,'' Torre said. The Yankees pulled away with a three-run eighth. After Jeter
chased Ponson with leadoff homer, Enrique Wilson added an RBI
double and Rondell White hit a run-scoring grounder. Giambi and Jorge Posada hit RBI singles in the ninth. Pettitte cruised through four innings before running into
trouble in the fifth. Jose Leon hit a leadoff single and took third
on a double by Melvin Mora. But the next three batters failed to
hit the ball out of the infield. "That was a big point in the game, a real momentum builder if
we get a run in,'' Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "We just
couldn't get it done.''
Williams went 1-for-4, leaving himself one hit short of
tying his own team single-season record for switch-hitters (202).
... Former Oriole Cal Ripken was on hand at a brief pregame
ceremony honoring Mike Bordick, who extended his major league
record of consecutive errorless games at shortstop to 108. ...
Pettitte improved to 14-4 lifetime against Baltimore. ... Ponson is
0-7 in his last 13 starts against the Yankees.