Yankees with 18th of last 21

PHOENIX (AP) -- Bernie Williams, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter
are connecting at the plate, so of course the New York Yankees are

The top three hitters in the star-studded Yankees batting order
homered and New York won for the 18th time in 21 games, 9-4 over
the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night.

"That's the way this team is," said the Yankees' Tanyon
Sturtze, who started in place of injured Kevin Brown and got the
victory. "They can put them up quickly, and you never know when
it's going to happen."

Williams was moved into the leadoff spot for the first time
since 1996 two weeks ago, with Jeter moving down to No. 2. On
Wednesday, Williams hit his first leadoff home run in nine years.

"I really don't know what I'm doing because I've had them
reversed for the longest time," manager Joe Torre said. "Bernie
just seems to be thriving in the leadoff spot. He doesn't mind
taking pitches. He's got a real good feel, good body language. He's
got a lot of life in his body right now."

Rodriguez reached base safely for the 52nd consecutive game -- 15
more than his previous career best.

The streak is the longest in a single season for New York since
Jeter had a 53-game run to start the 1999 season.

Jeter went 2-for-4, is 5-for-8 in the series and is hitting .463
(19-for-42) in his last 11 games, snapping out of his awful start
to the season.

"You always want to be successful but you've got to keep things
in perspective," Jeter said. "Like I said back then, we've got a
lot of games to play. It's a long season. You can't let a couple of
weeks get you down."

The Yankees have won four in a row and 12 of 14 to climb a major
league-best 21 games above .500 and build their biggest lead yet
over Boston in the AL East -- 5{ games.

"We've been playing well for a while now," Jeter said. "We
have a bunch of guys that can hit and pretty much everybody is
swinging the bat well right now."

The Diamondbacks committed four errors, two on consecutive plays
by shortstop Alex Cintron allowing two unearned runs. The Yankees
are tough enough without giving them extra at-bats, Arizona manager
Bob Brenly said.

"You let that conga keep coming up there to the plate with
runners on base and bad things are going to happen," Brenly said.

New York jumped on Casey Fossum for four runs in the first
inning, beginning with Williams' first leadoff home run since 1995.
Jeter singled, then Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi walked to load
the bases.

Jorge Posada lined a drive that took a bad hop and careened off
third baseman Chad Tracy's head into the Arizona dugout for a
ground-rule double to bring in two runs. Hideki Matsui singled in
the fourth run of the inning.

Rodriguez's 15th homer of the season, into the Diamondbacks
bullpen, made it 5-0 in the second.

"It's just tough," Fossum said. "You can't afford to walk
anybody because there's always someone better on deck."

Fossum (1-5) allowed eight runs, six earned, in 4 2-3 innings.

"They just never let him get comfortable out there," Brenly
said. "They didn't even give him a chance to establish anything.
They were hitting anything they saw close to the strike zone."

Sturtze (2-0), in his first start for the Yankees, gave up three
runs on six hits in six innings and retired the last 10 he faced.

The Diamondbacks cut the lead to 5-3 in the third. Scott
Hairston barely beat out a double down the right-field line, then
Steve Finley, Shea Hillenbrand and Cintron had RBI singles before
Doug DeVore grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Jeter's towering homer to left put the Yankees up 6-3 in the
fifth, then Cintron committed consecutive fielding errors with the
bases loaded and two outs in the same inning to allow two unearned
runs in and make it 8-3.

The Diamondbacks have made six errors in their two losses to New

Tim Olson hit his first major league homer off Bret Prinz in the

Game notes
Arizona OF Danny Bautista sat out the game after being hit
in the back of the head in the first inning Tuesday night. ... New
York has won 17 of 18 interleague games, seven of eight this
season. ... Rodriguez took a shot to the midsection in the third
when he caught Tracy's pop foul as he ran into the railing in front
of the Arizona dugout. ... The Diamondbacks have shown interest in
free agent RHP Mike Fetters, who had a workout Wednesday that drew
several teams. Fetters, 39, was with Minnesota last year but spent
most of the season on the disabled list with a strained left
hamstring and elbow discomfort. He had surgery on his right elbow
Aug. 8.