<
>

Contreras is 3-0 in last four starts

PHOENIX (AP) -- Mariano Rivera insists there was nothing special
about this one. No demons to banish, he said, just another save.

The New York closer returned for the first time to the mound
where he blew Game 7 of the 2001 World Series and methodically
disposed of three Arizona batters to preserve a 4-2 Yankees'
victory on Tuesday night.

"It's 2004," Rivera said, "and I'm still here."

So are the Yankees, still baseball's flagship, a team that
packed Bank One Ballpark with its first sellout crowd since the
season opener.

"We finally won one here," manager Joe Torre said, referring
to his team's 0-4 record in Arizona in late October and early
November 2001.

Miguel Cairo singled in two runs and Jose Contreras improved to
3-0 in his last four starts. He hasn't lost since he was briefly
sent to the minors to work on his command. Two starts ago, he
lasted just two-thirds of an inning but the Yankees rallied to win
that one.

Torre thought this was a good step forward for the often erratic
right-hander.

"Right now, unfortunately everything you're looking at is so
magnified because of the problems he had early on, but I think he's
passing with pretty good grades," Torre said.

Contreras (4-2) allowed two runs on five hits in 6 1-3 innings.
He struck out six, walked two and hit a batter. He threw 120
pitches.

"He was effectively wild tonight," Diamondbacks manager Bob
Brenly said. "It seemed like we couldn't come up with that one big
knock against him."

Gabe White and Tom Gordon shut down Arizona until Rivera could
take over.

Gary Sheffield, Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter each had three
hits for the Yankees, who have won 11 of 13 -- and 17 of 20 -- to
open a season-best 4{-game lead over Boston in the AL East.

One of Sheffield's hits was a solo home run off Mike Koplove in
the ninth.

Rivera said that since the team arrived in Arizona he had seen
numerous television replays of that Game 7 loss, when the Yankees
carried a 2-1 lead into the ninth but lost 3-2 on Luis Gonzalez's
bloop RBI single.

"I've seen it over and over," Rivera joked. "I don't think
they want me to forget it."

But he said he long ago moved on.

Rivera earned his 27th save, most in the majors, and his ninth
in June. Rivera was unavailable for Sunday's game because of
tightness in his back.

Andy Green hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer for his first major
league hit for Arizona.

The Diamondbacks tied a club record by turning four double plays
-- in the first six innings. Still, the Yankees stranded 12
baserunners.

After squandering several opportunities, New York scored two in
the fifth inning to go up 3-0.

Alex Rodriguez grounded into his second double play of the
night, but Arizona starter Brandon Webb (3-6) hit Jason Giambi with
a pitch and Sheffield singled. Hideki Matsui walked to load the
bases, then Cairo lined a two-run single to right.

Arizona cut it to 3-2 in its half of the fifth. Juan Brito's
liner glanced off Rodriguez's glove at third base to shortstop
Jeter, and the runner just beat the throw to first.

Green, in his second at-bat since being called up from Triple-A
Tucson on Thursday, hit Contreras' 2-0 pitch over the bullpen in
left field to make it 3-2.

"It's special," Green said. "I don't know how many guys get a
curtail call on their first hit. It's a moment I'll never forget.
It would have been a hundred more times special if we could have
come back and won that game."

Webb allowed three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits in five
innings. He struck out five and walked five, two intentionally. He
also hit a batter.

"One through six or seven are all-star type of players," Webb
said of the New York lineup. "They keep firing them at you, one
after another, just outstanding players."

The Yankees loaded the bases with no outs in the third inning,
but managed only one run -- and that was thanks to an error.

Bernie Williams and Jeter singled, then Rodriguez walked to load
the bases. Giambi struck out on a 3-2 pitch, then Sheffield bounced
one to third base. Chad Tracy's throw home for an easy force out
was wild, allowing the run to score.

Matsui ended the inning with a double-play grounder to short.

Rodriguez's walk marked the 51st game in a row that he's reached
base, extending his career-best streak.

Game notes
Arizona's Danny Bautista was struck in the back of the
helmet by a pitch from Contreras in the first inning. Bautista bent
over, dazed, but stayed in for two innings despite what was later
diagnosed as a mild concussion. He was replaced by pinch-hitter
Doug DeVore in the third inning as a precaution. ... Rivera tied
Goose Gossage for 13th on the career saves list with 310.