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Brown allows three hits through seven

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- It's been 94 years since a New York
Yankees pitcher has dominated an opponent the way Kevin Brown has
manhandled the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the first two months of the
season.

The right-hander beat the Devil Rays for the fourth time
Saturday night, taking a one-hitter into the eighth inning before
settling for a 5-3 victory that vaulted the Yankees into first
place in the AL East.

"You probably wouldn't expect to have that many starts against
one team early in the season, but what can you do?" Brown said.
"You have still got to prepare and make pitches."

Brown became the first pitcher to get four victories against one
team before June since Brooklyn's Hugh Casey did it against the New
York Giants in 1941, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Jack Quinn was the last Yankees pitcher to do it -- in 1910
against the Washington Senators.

"It's two months into the season. Let's not get ahead of
ourselves," Brown said when asked again about his success against
Tampa Bay. "There's a lot of season left to go. I expect we'll
probably face each other a few more times."

Bernie Williams, Ruben Sierra and Enrique Wilson homered for the
defending AL champions, who climbed to a season-high 12 games over
.500 (30-18) with their sixth straight win on a 12-game road trip
that ends Sunday.

Pitching on a week's rest because he left the Yankees for two
days to handle a personal matter, Brown (6-1) limited the Devil
Rays to Toby Hall's leadoff single in the third until Hall led off
the eighth with his third home run of the season.

Carl Crawford walked, stole second and scored on Rocco
Baldelli's two-out double, chasing the Yankees starter, who gave up
three runs and three hits in 7 2-3 innings.

"He was excellent," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He
seemed more relaxed for some reason. He seemed more calm tonight
than I've seen him."

After reliever Felix Heredia gave up an RBI double to Aubrey
Huff, leaving New York with a 5-3 lead, Tom Gordon struck out Fred
McGriff to end the inning.

Mariano Rivera, who got his 300th career save on Friday night,
worked a hitless ninth to earn his AL-leading 18th save this
season.

In Brown's four starts against the Devil Rays, Tampa Bay has
scored just six runs in 28 2-3 innings. The right-hander walked
three, struck out five and allowed just one runner past first base
until the eighth.

"Obviously he feels comfortable pitching against us," Tampa
Bay manager Lou Piniella said. "But he's beaten a lot of other
teams, too."

Derek Jeter had an RBI single for the Yankees, who have won
eight of their last 12 games. With Boston losing to Seattle earlier
in the day, New York moved atop the AL East for the first time
since May 21, a half-game up on the Red Sox.

Williams went 3-for-4 and hit his fifth home run off Mark
Hendrickson (2-5) in the first inning. New York added a run in the
fourth when Hideki Matsui walked, Sierra doubled off the left-field
wall and Tony Clark grounded out.

Sierra homered for the second straight game in the sixth for a
3-0 lead. The Yankees have outhomered the Devil Rays 15-4 in seven
games, and Tampa Bay has been outhomered by opponents 68-36
overall.

Jeter's RBI single gave Brown a four-run lead and Williams'
third hit, with two outs in the sixth, chased Hendrickson, who
allowed eight hits, walked four and struck out one in 5 2-3
innings.

Wilson hit a solo homer off Travis Harper in the eighth.

Alex Rodriguez went 2-for-4, extending his streak of reaching
base safely to 37 games -- matching the longest such stretch in his
career. The reigning AL MVP also reached safely in 37 straight in
1999 with Seattle.

Game notes
McGriff made his first start for Tampa Bay since being
called up from Triple-A Durham, batting fourth. Tino Martinez, who
usually bats cleanup, is 4-for-41 lifetime against Brown and had
the night off. ... McGriff, who has 491 career home runs, went
0-for-4 with three strikeouts. ... New York C Jorge Posada has
drawn a walk in a career-best 13 consecutive games. ... Williams
needs 10 hits to become the seventh Yankee to reach 2,000 in his
career.