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Yankees win fifth straight

NEW YORK (AP) -- For a guy who's been struggling at the plate,
Bernie Williams is having a pretty good week when it comes to the
New York Yankees' record book.

Williams hit his 10th grand slam Sunday to move into fourth
place on the club's career list and spark an 8-2 win over the
last-place Toronto Blue Jays, who fired manager Carlos Tosca after
their fifth straight loss.

"We have six or seven weeks left in the season and the team
showed signs of not playing hard," said general manager J.P.
Ricciardi, who hired Tosca on June 3, 2002.

The slam put Williams one ahead of Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra,
trailing only Lou Gehrig (23), Joe DiMaggio (13) and Babe Ruth
(12).

A day earlier, Williams reached 1,100 RBI, passing batting
coach Don Mattingly for eighth place in club history. A day before
that, Williams' 391st double moved him past DiMaggio for fourth on
the team list.

"It's a very special feeling," Williams said. "It feels nice,
obviously. A lot of the credit belongs to people who worked with
me, believed in me and let me play year-in and year-out. It's been
a great run and hopefully it's not over yet."

Williams is hitting .251 this season and the slam was his 13th
home run, hardly startling statistics. He has been working with
Mattingly on his approach.

"He's trying to get me to hit the ball out front," Williams
said. "He wants me to see the ball, but not too long that I can't
hit the ball. He's a positive influence. He's confident I'm going
to hit the ball hard. He says, `Stick with the plan. You're a good
hitter and you'll get through this.' He's very encouraging."

So was Jon Lieber (8-7), who extended the Yankees' streak of
eight-inning efforts by starting pitchers to four, limiting the
Blue Jays to four hits. He struck out five and walked one.

"I finally felt comfortable," said Lieber, who had not won
since July 10. "It's probably arm slot. I made an adjustment."

Manager Joe Torre lauded Lieber's effort.

"He looked a lot smoother," Torre said. "They hit a lot of
topped balls early and that's a good sign."

So are the long outings by a suddenly efficient pitching staff.
Kevin Brown, Javier Vazquez and Orlando Hernandez each worked eight
innings in New York's previous three victories.

"It's been contagious," Torre said. "It's like being in a
slump. Now it's the other way and I like it this way."

Williams connected in the first inning against Miguel Batista
(9-7), who gave up infield hits to Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui
and hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch to load the bases.

The slam into the right-field bleachers gave Lieber a quick 4-0
lead. It was Williams' first grand slam since July 25, 2000, when
he connected against Baltimore.

Toronto got a run back in the second when Carlos Delgado doubled
and scored on a single by Eric Hinske.

"We've been accustomed to playing our best ball at the end of
the year and this year we're not going to get an opportunity to do
that," Tosca said. "One thing I've always prided myself on is
that the players have given a good effort."

In the third, the Yankees extended the lead to 6-1. Matsui
singled with two outs and Williams walked. Both runners scored on a
double by John Olerud. That gave Olerud six hits and six RBI in
four games since signing with the Yankees after he was released by
Seattle.

An inning later, the lead went to 8-1 when Kenny Lofton singled
and scored in front of Gary Sheffield's 26th home run of the
season, a shot off the facade of the upper deck in left field.

"It was a great pitch," Batista said. "It was right where I
wanted it, a sinker down and in."

All the Yankees' runs scored with two outs.

Toronto scored again in the sixth when Frank Catalanotto opened
with a single and Delgado hit his second double. A walk to Gregg
Zaun loaded the bases, but second baseman Enrique Wilson made a
sparkling stop of Hinske's RBI groundout.

Paul Quantrill worked a perfect ninth to finish it.

Game notes
Williams' slam was the sixth for the Yankees this season.
They lead the major leagues with 170 home runs. ... Toronto's Gabe
Gross reached base on catcher's interference in the fifth, and C
John Flaherty was charged with an error. ... Yankees C Jorge Posada
(bruised right thumb) sat out his third straight game. "We're
playing it safe one more day," Torre said. "If it was the
postseason, he'd be playing."