Series: Game 2 of 3

Series tied 1-1 (as of 6/12)

Game 1: Friday, June 11
San Diego10Final
NY Yankees2
Game 2: Saturday, June 12
San Diego2Final
NY Yankees3
Game 3: Sunday, June 13
San Diego5Final
in 12
NY Yankees6

Padres 2

(33-28, 17-16 away)

Yankees 3

(39-21, 22-9 home)

    4:05 PM ET, June 12, 2004

    Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York 

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    SD 000011000 2 13 1
    NYY 00100200 - 3 7 0

    W: J. Lieber (5-3)

    L: D. Tankersley (0-3)

    S: M. Rivera (26)

    Sheffield drives in winning run

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Joe Torre put Bret Prinz in a tough predicament and wound up with yet another reason to believe in him.

    Prinz pitched out of a first-and-third, none-out jam in the seventh inning Saturday, preserving the New York Yankees' 3-2 victory over the San Diego Padres. Called up from the minors twice this season, the right-hander has gained Torre's trust with seven scoreless outings.

    "It just seems that he's really become a very aggressive pitcher in the strike zone," the manager said. "He's not afraid to throw it."

    Gary Sheffield put New York ahead with a two-run single in the sixth. Derek Jeter had three hits and Jon Lieber worked out of trouble all afternoon for the Yankees, who improved to 9-2 on their 12-game homestand.

    They'll try to end it in style Sunday against former teammate David Wells, who makes his first start at Yankee Stadium since losing Game 1 of last year's World Series.

    Sheffield's single to center off reliever Scott Linebrink gave New York a 3-2 lead and sent Padres starter Dennis Tankersley (0-3) to his eighth consecutive loss since his only major league win on May 26, 2002, at Milwaukee.

    "If you can pitch to these guys, then you can pitch to any lineup in this league," Tankersley said. "I felt like I did pretty good."

    San Diego put runners at the corners in the seventh against Paul Quantrill, and Prinz came in to face the middle of the order. Cleanup hitter Phil Nevin hit a short fly to right, and Sheffield held Mark Loretta at third with a strong throw to the plate.

    Prinz then got Jay Payton on a foul popup and Terrence Long on a fly to left.

    Prinz pumped his fist as he walked off the mound to cheers from the sellout crowd of 54,280. He has struck out nine and allowed only three hits in 9 2-3 innings this year.

    "It makes me feel real good to go in there and do the job that was asked," he said. "It feels good to know that you're liked and you have a manager who has confidence in you."

    Tom Gordon fanned two in a perfect eighth, and Mariano Rivera got three outs for his AL-leading 26th save in 27 chances. He struck out Brian Giles and Nevin looking with a runner on to end it.

    "Our bullpen has been kind of our backbone all year," Alex Rodriguez said.

    The Yankees, who own the best record in the majors, have won 15 of 18 overall and are 31-10 following an 8-11 start.

    Lieber (5-3) gave up 11 hits but only two runs in six innings, rebounding from a pair of poor starts.

    "He got some big double plays to keep the game in check," Rodriguez said. "Sometimes the hits are misleading."

    The best thing Lieber did, however, was stay healthy. Teammates Kevin Brown and Mike Mussina each left their last start with an injury -- and the Yankees were still not sure whether either would be able to make his next start.

    Lieber was hit by a couple of comebackers in the second inning, but remained in the game. He was also helped by some solid defense.

    "I feel like we have a bull's-eye on our pitchers," Rodriguez said.

    Bernie Williams legged out a double with two outs in the third, moved up on a passed ball and scored on Jeter's single to make it 1-0.

    The Padres tied it in the fifth. Loretta doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored when Rodriguez couldn't come up with Nevin's slow roller to third for a two-out infield hit.

    Rodriguez then leaned into the stands to make a nice play on Payton's popup, ending the inning.

    "When you knock 13 hits around and score only two runs, yeah, we let this one get away," Payton said.

    Long singled leading off the sixth and went to third on Ramon Hernandez's hit-and-run single to right. Kerry Robinson followed with a sacrifice fly, giving San Diego a 2-1 lead.

    Lieber got out of the inning when Sean Burroughs grounded into a double play.

    "I think that was probably the biggest play of the game," Lieber said.

    As for Wells, he signed some autographs in the corner of the Padres' dugout before the game. He said he was excited about starting Sunday but wasn't sure what kind of reception he'll get.

    "We'll find out tomorrow," he said.

    Game notes

    Tankersley gave up three runs and six hits in five-plus innings. ... San Diego stranded 11 runners. ... Rodriguez has reached base safely in a career-best 49 consecutive games. ... New York activated OF Kenny Lofton from the disabled list and designated 2B Homer Bush for assignment.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press