New York 8, Baltimore 5


BALTIMORE (AP) -- As the line drive hooked toward the left-field
corner, Larry Bigbie began circling the bases.

At the same time, Hideki Matsui intensified his pursuit of the

"I knew it was tailing away, and I didn't think he was going to
get it," Bigbie said.

Matsui wasn't so sure, either. But he never let up.

After driving in the tiebreaking run in the seventh inning,
Matsui preserved the lead with a sensational catch to rally the New
York Yankees past the Baltimore Orioles 8-5 Thursday night.

First, Matsui hit a sacrifice fly to cap a three-run uprising
that gave the Yankees a 6-5 lead.

In the bottom of the seventh, with two on and two out, he robbed
Bigbie with a running, backhanded stab of an opposite-field liner
near the wall. Matsui lost his hat as he rolled on the warning
track after hitting the padding, but the ball remained secure in
his glove.

"When it was hit, I had the feeling I could catch up to it,"
Matsui said. "But then the ball started spinning farther away from

Undaunted, Matsui closed the gap.

"You know he had a chance by how hard he was running after
it," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "When he jumped, I still
held my breath because I knew he had to crash into the wall."

Matsui's heroics made a winner of Andy Pettitte (14-7), who
allowed five runs and 11 hits in six-plus innings. The left-hander
improved to 17-4 lifetime against Baltimore, including 11-2 at
Camden Yards.

"The guys swing the bats well here and have scored some runs
for me when I haven't been able to throw a strong game," Pettitte

Jorge Posada hit a two-run homer in the ninth, and Bernie
Williams went 3-for-3 with two RBI and two walks to help New York
maintain its three-game lead over Boston in the AL East.

The Yankees had lost three of four, but Torre believes Matsui's
catch just might get them on a roll.

"It was unbelievable. That's the kind of play that can start a
winning streak," Torre said.

Tony Batista hit a three-run homer and Brian Roberts had a solo
shot for the Orioles, who have lost four straight.

Baltimore outhit the Yankees 12-10, but lamented the one that
Matsui took away.

"I don't know how he got to that ball," manager Mike Hargrove
said. "I thought the ball was over the head. He made a tremendous
play, then to hold onto the ball after he hit the wall, that was

Baltimore failed for a third straight time to get Damian Moss
his first AL victory. Moss, obtained in the July 31 trade that sent
Sidney Ponson to San Francisco, was lifted in the sixth with
Baltimore holding a 5-3 lead.

The Yankees rallied against the Orioles' bullpen in the seventh.
After New York loaded the bases with no outs against Eric DuBose
(1-2), Williams hit a two-run single off Hector Carrasco and Matsui
lifted a long foul ball down the left-field line that produced the
go-ahead run.

That was enough to give Pettitte another victory over the
Orioles, his third without a loss this season.

Mariano Rivera got four outs for his 24th save in 29 chances.

New York used a sacrifice fly by Jason Giambi and an RBI double
by Matsui to go up 2-0 in the fourth, but the Orioles scored four
runs in their half.

Deivi Cruz walked, Jay Gibbons singled and Batista ended an
0-for-12 skid by sending a 1-1 fastball into the left-field seats.
Jose Leon then reached second when his pop fly to center dropped in
front of Williams, and Bigbie followed with an RBI single.

David Delluci, a former Oriole playing in Baltimore for the
first time since 1997, hit an RBI double in the fifth to make it
4-3. Roberts led off the Orioles' half with his fourth homer, the
first since June 14.

Game notes
The game was a makeup of the July 2 rainout. ... Orioles 1B
Jeff Conine, who missed a sixth straight game with bursitis in his
right biceps. ... New York's Aaron Boone went 0-for-4 with a walk
and is 6-for-48 (.125) in 13 games since being acquired in a trade
with Cincinnati. ... Cruz, who had only seven walks all season,
received two from Pettitte. ... The Yankees' 39-23 road record is
best in the majors.