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Yankees need late rally to cage Tigers

9/10/2003

NEW YORK (AP) -- Drew Henson was safe at the plate. In football,
he would have been short of a first down.

The former Michigan quarterback stumbled home to score the
tiebreaking run on Bernie Williams' eighth-inning single, and the
New York Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers 4-2 Tuesday night.

Henson was called up from the minors last Friday amid rumors
that he plans to give up baseball for a possible NFL career. Now
he's the most famous pinch-runner in the pennant race.

"The only thing you're trying to do is not screw up," Henson
said. "It's new, but any time you can help win the game is a great
feeling -- however that may be."

Jorge Posada hit a two-run single for the Yankees, who got an
excellent effort from their maligned bullpen and remained 3{ games
ahead of Boston in the AL East.

Detroit (37-106) needs six wins in its final 19 games to avoid
matching the post-1900 record of 120 losses in a season set by the
1962 New York Mets.

The punchless Tigers snapped a 26-inning scoreless drought and
tied it with two runs in the fifth, but still dropped their fourth
straight.

"This was a pretty good example of what's happened to us all
year," manager Alan Trammell said. "We played a pretty
competitive ballgame. We just came up a little short."

Yankees starter Jose Contreras came out in the fifth with a
mildly sprained left ankle. X-rays were negative and he said he
will make his next start.

"Initially I thought it was a lot worse," Contreras said
through a translator.

Fernando Rodney (0-3) walked Posada with one out in the eighth,
and he was replaced by Henson. He moved to second on Ruben Sierra's
single, then Williams snapped a 6-for-43 skid with a single off the
glove of diving second baseman Warren Morris.

Henson tripped and fell coming around third. "My foot slipped
off the bag," he said. But a runner can get back up in baseball --
as opposed to college football -- and he still scored easily.

The Tigers appealed at third base, but umpire Paul Schrieber
ruled Henson hit the bag, and he smiled in the dugout with his
teammates.

"If I'd have gotten thrown out at the plate, then there would
have been some issues," Henson said.

Hideki Matsui followed with a sacrifice fly, making it 4-2.

Gabe White (1-0) threw one pitch in the eighth for his first win
with the Yankees since being acquired from Cincinnati on July 31.
Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his 34th save in 40 chances.

Yankees reliever Jeff Nelson struck out Craig Monroe with the
bases loaded to end the seventh. New York has won three in a row
since getting blown out in the first two games of a weekend series
against the Red Sox and drawing the ire of owner George
Steinbrenner.

"There's no walk in the park," Nelson said. "These are the
teams that give you the most trouble. All these teams play hard.
Everyone gets up to play the Yankees. Just because they lost 105
games doesn't mean they're going to lay down for us. They're a
scrappy team."

Contreras cruised through the first three innings, but couldn't
get out of the fifth. Ramon Santiago hit an RBI single -- Detroit's
first run since last Friday -- and Contreras' left shoe came off as
he stumbled while chasing Alex Sanchez's bunt single.

Assistant trainer Steve Donohue came out twice during the inning
to check on Contreras, who never seemed comfortable again. He was
lifted after walking Dmitri Young with the bases loaded, and Felix
Heredia got out of the inning when Carlos Pena lined out.

The Yankees jumped ahead when Posada grounded a two-run single
to left in the first.

Tigers starter Nate Robertson used a good breaking ball to keep
New York in check for the first six innings. Seemingly undaunted by
his first appearance at Yankee Stadium, the left-hander allowed two
runs and five hits in his fifth start since being recalled from
Triple-A Toledo on Aug. 18.

"It was pretty awesome," Robertson said. "The nerves, anxiety
was running pretty good. I had a good time. I'll never forget this
moment."

Game notes
The Yankees have won 14 of the last 16 meetings, dating to
2001. ... Yankees manager Joe Torre gave slugger Jason Giambi a
rest, one day after he snapped a 1-for-40 skid with two hits. ...
Matsui saved a run in the second with a tremendous sliding catch on
the warning track in left-center, robbing Shane Halter of extra
bases and earning a standing ovation. ... Robertson picked Alfonso
Soriano off first in the fifth. ... The Yankees are 31 games over
.500, matching a season high.