BALTIMORE (AP) -- David Wells kept his winning streak intact, and
the New York Yankees took another large step toward wrapping up
home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs.
Wells allowed two hits over six innings, and Bernie Williams had
three hits and two RBI as the Yankees won their fourth straight,
4-2 over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night. The victory enabled the Yankees (102-58) to maintain a half-game
lead over Oakland (102-59) in the race for home-field advantage
throughout the AL playoffs. "It's always great to have home-field advantage,'' Wells said.
"Playing in our ball park is an advantage. It's nice to play at
home and sleep in your own bed.'' Since the Yankees have the edge in the tiebreaker with Oakland,
New York needs one more victory or an Oakland loss to clinch it --
and avoid a Monday makeup game against Tampa Bay. "We don't have to look to anyone to lose. It's up to us,''
Yankees manager Joe Torre said. The Orioles lost their 11th in a row, matching the
fourth-longest skid in team history. It's the longest since a
21-game slide at the beginning of the 1988 season. Geronimo Gil homered off Mariano Rivera in the eighth for the
Orioles, who have lost 31 of 35, including eight straight at home. Williams' three hits gave him 204, breaking his own season
franchise record for hits by a switch-hitter. He had 202 in 1999. "Bernie has a lot of life in his bat right now,'' Torre said. Williams hit a two-run double off Travis Driskill (8-8) in a
three-run fifth inning that broke open a scoreless game. In his final tuneup before the playoffs, Wells (19-7) struck out
three and allowed only two runners in winning his fourth straight
start. The left-hander threw only 60 pitches, 45 of them strikes. "He was great. He was aggressive and they were swinging
early,'' Torre said. "He doesn't leave much to the imagination.
That's the way he pitches.'' Wells has not walked a batter in his last four starts. He's 7-1
in eight starts since Aug. 10. "I got a lot of run support all year; defense as well,'' Wells
said. Mike Stanton worked the ninth for his sixth save. It was his
78th appearance, setting a Yankees record for pitchers. Driskill matched zeros with Wells until the fifth. After Rondell
White hit a one-out double, Driskill issued a pair of two-out walks
to load the bases. The right-hander then hit Jason Giambi with a
pitch, forcing in a run, before Williams doubled to right. "If I get one of those guys out, nobody scores,'' Driskill
said. "I tried to go inside on Giambi, and I didn't think Bernie
would be swinging on the first pitch. I laid a curveball in there
and he hit it.'' White doubled and scored on a single by Alfonso Soriano to make
it 4-0 in the sixth. Wells retired the first nine batters before Luis Lopez hit a
leadoff single in the fourth and reached third with two outs.
Yankees third baseman Robin Ventura then made a diving stop of Tony
Batista's grounder down the line, and threw him out by a step. The Orioles also wasted a leadoff double by Jay Gibbons in the
fifth when Soriano grabbed Gil's two-out grounder behind second
base and threw out the slow-running catcher. "The play was remarkable,'' Torre said. "To be able to throw
him out in that situation was huge.'' Gil's 12th homer snapped a 2-for-29 skid.
Orioles RHP Buddy Groom got the final out in the ninth,
becoming the first pitcher in major league history to appear in 70
games over seven straight seasons. ... Torre said he won't formally
announcing his starting rotation until Sunday or Monday. "All our
pitchers don't even know the rotation. Once they know, you'll
know,'' he said. ... Giambi has 15 HBPs this year, most on the
team. ... The Orioles have scored more than three runs only once
during their 11-game slide. ... Derek Jeter has eight hits in his
last 16 at-bats.