Yankees rally in eighth, take 2 of 3 from Astros

NEW YORK (AP) -- Joe Torre made it clear he expects his New York Yankees to play with more heart.

They got the message.

One day after getting no-hit for the first time in 45 years, the Yankees bounced back against the same Houston bullpen that shut them down. Alfonso Soriano hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning, and New York took advantage of a big error by Jeff Bagwell to rally past the Astros 6-5 Thursday.

"It was very important to win the game today," Soriano said. "Everybody knows the Yankees fight until the end."

Torre held a team meeting after Wednesday night's 8-0 loss, and the Yankees responded by showing some championship grit.

"I wouldn't say it was a must win, but when Joe was as vocal as he was last night, everyone wanted to step it up a notch today," catcher John Flaherty said. "The tone was set last night after the game. If you didn't wake up today to play, there's something wrong with you."

New York took two of three in the first series between the teams. Roger Clemens makes his fourth bid for his 300th victory Friday night against the St. Louis Cardinals -- he's been stuck at 299 for three weeks.

Houston took a 5-3 lead in the sixth on Adam Everett's two-run double off David Wells. But this time, the Yankees were able to get some big hits against the Houston bullpen.

Juan Rivera's RBI single off Kirk Saarloos, who got four outs Wednesday night, cut it to 5-4 in the sixth. Raul Mondesi singled off Brad Lidge, who threw two innings in the no-hitter, with two outs in the seventh to tie it at 5.

"I thought the intensity level was a lot better today," Derek Jeter said. "Hopefully, when the season's over with we can look back and say this was the turning point -- but only time will tell."

Sx Houston pitchers combined on the no-hitter, the first against the Yankees in 6,980 games -- the longest streak in big league history. Hoyt Wilhelm was the last pitcher to no-hit New York, with a 1-0 victory for Baltimore on Sept. 20, 1958.

It was also the most pitchers ever to combine on a no-hitter in the majors -- twice, four had done it.

The lifeless effort figured to draw the ire of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who was in Torre's office for about a half-hour before the game.

"We discussed some things," Torre said. "That's about all I'm going to say.

"There's no question he has the right to say what he wants and do what he wants. But I don't think there was any way I could have felt worse about that game."

Hideki Matsui led off the eighth with a dribbler to first, but Bagwell stumbled and booted the ball.

"I was letting it go, at the last minute I thought it was going to hit the bag and I just kind of panicked," he said. "I just flat out fumbled it. I don't have an excuse."

A single by pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra and a walk to pinch-hitter Jorge Posada loaded the bases for Soriano, who looped a go-ahead single to right off Octavio Dotel (5-2).

The Yankees won for the first time this season when trailing after six innings -- they had been 0-20.

"That's baseball," said Dotel, who struck out four batters in the eighth inning of the no-hitter. "Nobody knows how baseball is going to be, day by day. I'm real mad right now. I forgot about last night."

Antonio Osuna (2-2) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory. Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his seventh save in eight chances.

Jeter, the Yankees' second batter of the game, bunted for a single to snap the hitless string.

The Astros got to Wells immediately. Craig Biggio led off the first with a double, went to third on the front end of a double steal and scored on Jeff Kent's single.

Matsui then made the latest mental mistake for the Yankees. Richard Hidalgo hit a shallow fly to center, which should not have been nearly deep enough to score Morgan Ensberg from third. But Matsui just lobbed the ball into second base, so Ensberg took off and scored without a throw, bringing boos from the crowd of 39,888.

Hidalgo was credited with a sacrifice fly. Wells screamed as he walked off the mound after the inning and stomped his feet on the dugout steps.

"It wasn't so good for my stomach, but it was probably better overall that we had to fight from behind," Torre said.

Todd Zeile cut it to 2-1 with a sacrifice fly in the first.

Mondesi doubled leading off the fourth and scored on Matsui's hard single to right. Juan Rivera's sacrifice fly gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead.

The Astros loaded the bases with three straight singles in the sixth and Brian Hunter tied it with a sacrifice fly. One batter later, Everett hit a two-run double down the left-field line.

Game notes
Wells allowed five runs and 10 hits in six innings. & Astros starter Jeriome Robertson gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. & Houston's Lance Berkman extended his hitting streak to 18 games with a fourth-inning single. & The Yankees improved to 4-5 in interleague play. Houston dropped to 7-2.