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Yankees' six-game surge comes to an end

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Nothing comes easy for the Tampa Bay
Devil Rays when they play the New York Yankees.

Take Sunday for example, when they took a two-hitter and six-run
lead into the seventh inning and barely held on for a 7-6 victory
that stopped New York's six-game winning streak.

"Just your typical one-run win at home," Devil Rays manager
Lou Piniella joked. "We found a way to let them back in it ... but
it's nice beating that team. It really is."

Aubrey Huff homered twice and drove in three runs, while Brook
Fordyce hit a solo homer in the eighth that turned out to be the
winning margin.

The Devil Rays went 7-5 on a 12-game homestand and Piniella got
career win 1,399 -- tying him for 23rd place with Hall of Famer
Wilbert Robinson.

"We bended a little bit," Fordyce said. "We didn't break."

Victor Zambrano (5-4) beat the Yankees for the third time this
season, limiting the defending AL champions to a pair of singles by
Hideki Matsui until Enrique Wilson singled with one out in the
seventh to give New York runners at first and second.

Not wanting to give the Yankees a chance to cut into a six-run
deficit, Piniella immediately turned to a bullpen that performed
well for the Devil Rays during a homestand that saw them go 5-1
against Cleveland and Minnesota and 2-4 against Boston and New
York.

Jorge Sosa struck out Derek Jeter and got Bernie Williams to fly
out. But Tampa Bay lost the shutout bid in the eighth when Alex
Rodriguez singled, stole second and scored on Matsui's third hit.

Tony Clark's RBI single off Sosa cut the lead to 6-2, and the
Yankees added two more runs in the eighth on Jeter's infield single
and Geoff Blum's throwing error, pulling to 6-4. After Fordyce's
homer made it 7-4, closer Danys Baez returned to the mound for the
ninth to earn his eighth save in eight opportunities.

Gary Sheffield singled and Ruben Sierra doubled off Baez before
Clark hit a two-run single. Jorge Posada then struck out, ending
the game.

"We fought back. We made them earn it," Sheffield said.

The Yankees finished a 12-game road trip -- their longest in
nearly two years -- with an 8-4 record. They headed home second in
the AL East, a half-game behind Boston.

"We've been winning so often, I just sort of expect to win,"
New York manager Joe Torre said.

"It's nice to have everybody in the game and nobody throwing in
the towel at any point in time. We had a couple opportunities."

Huff, emerging from a season-long slump, hit solo homers off Jon
Lieber (4-2) in the fourth and fifth innings. He added a RBI single
off Gabe White in the sixth for a 6-0 lead and finished 3-for-4.

The young Tampa Bay slugger has gone 29-for-80 in his last 20
games to raise his average to a season-high .264 with seven homers
and 26 RBI. He hit .311 with 34 homers and 107 RBI last year.

"Huff always hits. It's just a matter of when it starts,"
Piniella said. "We talked the other day about how when he begins
to get his average up and get some hits, he starts to hit home
runs."

Huff concurred.

"With singles and hits comes confidence," he said. "When
you're struggling, it seems like every pitch is going to get you
out."

Zambrano allowed three hits, walked three and struck out seven
in 6 1-3 innings. Lieber, meanwhile, gave up six runs and 11 hits
in five-plus innings -- his shortest outing this season.

"It's very frustrating," Lieber said. "I expect to keep the
game a little closer."

Rodriguez was hit by a pitch in the sixth, extending his streak
of reaching base safely to a career-best 38 consecutive games.

In addition to leading the majors with 46 walks, Zambrano has
hit an AL-leading 10 batters.

Game notes
Jeter has at least one RBI in seven consecutive games. ...
Lieber has only walked three batters in 40 2-3 innings this season.
The 11 hits he yielded were a season-high. The six runs equaled the
season-high he allowed in his other loss, May 7 at Seattle. ...
Tampa Bay SS Julio Lugo was ejected for arguing balls and strikes
in the second inning. ... Zambrano has made more appearances (19,
including 10 starts) and pitched more innings against the Yankees
than any other team. He's 5-3 against them.