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Mussina wins fourth consecutive start

5/21/2004

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Mike Mussina's struggles are over.

He baffled the Anaheim Angels with his nasty breaking ball
Thursday night, pitching the New York Yankees to a 6-2 victory. It
was Mussina's fourth win in four starts after opening the year 1-4.

"Things have gotten a lot better for me since the beginning of
the season, and I just feel better being out there," Mussina said.

"I feel like I know what I want to do and I can execute it. The
beginning of the year was a struggle, but I just kept after it and
things got better. The last couple of games I've been able to go
out there in the seventh and eighth innings and throw the ball the
way I threw it in the first and the second," he said.

Mussina scattered seven hits and held the Angels to one run in 7
2-3 innings. He struck out six and didn't allow a walk, helping the
Yankees move a half-game ahead of Boston in the AL East.

"I had pretty good stuff from the beginning of the game,
keeping the ball down, moving it in and out," Mussina said. "I
was able to get almost all my pitches over for strikes and threw
off-speed pitches in fastball counts."

Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia, whose team scored only five runs
in losing two of three to the Yankees, was impressed by Mussina's
performance.

"He looked like vintage Mussina. He had his good curveball
working, threw some off-speed stuff, spotted his fastball well,"
Scioscia said.

Mussina improved his career record to 204-114.

Hideki Matsui hit a two-run homer in the fourth off Bartolo
Colon (4-3). Derek Jeter had a solo shot in the third.

New York took two of three from the Angels, its seventh
consecutive series win since being swept at home by Boston in a
three-game set April 23-25. The Yankees also took two of three
against Anaheim last week in the Bronx.

"We've been playing extremely well," Jeter said. "We've been
pitching well, playing good defense and the guys have been swinging
the bats pretty good.

"So right now I like what I see."

Mussina (5-4) has not allowed a home run in his last four starts
after giving up one homer in each of his first six outings. He has
walked only three batters in his last 28 2-3 innings.

The Yankees rocked Colon for six runs and nine hits in five
innings. He struck out four and walked one.

It was the second rough outing in a row for Colon, who gave up
five runs in five innings in the Angels' 10-9, 10-inning win at
Baltimore last Friday.

He said tightness in his back during his start in Baltimore
wasn't really a factor against the Yankees, but added: "My
location has been bad and I've been high in the strike zone."

Colon, speaking through a translator, also said, "The Yankees
did a good job of hammering my high pitches, something they should
do if I'm high in the zone."

Matsui drove a 94 mph fastball over the wall in center for his
sixth homer. Jeter, who came into the game batting .187, hit a shot
over the fence in left for his third of the season.

Alex Rodriguez opened the scoring for the Yankees with a
sacrifice fly in the first inning. Jorge Posada added a two-run
double in the fifth.

Paul Quantrill got the last out of the eighth, then gave up an
RBI single Casey Kotchman in the ninth.

Anaheim's Ramon Ortiz, sent to the bullpen after struggling as a
starter, relieved Colon and struck out Bernie Williams, Rodriguez
and Jason Giambi in order in the seventh. Ortiz retired 12 of his
14 batters.

Game notes
Angels C Bengie Molina was hit in the knee by a foul ball
in the sixth inning and was replaced by Josh Paul in the seventh.
... Rodriguez singled in the fifth to reach base for the 29th
consecutive game, the longest active streak in the majors this
year. ... Jeter's single leading off the game ended his 0-for-17
skid, and the hit was only his second in 27 at-bats. He earlier
went through a 0-for-32 slump.