NEW YORK (AP) -- That record-setting defeat hit the New York Yankees like a punch in the face, stirring up their pride and
refocusing their attention.
Gary Sheffield had three RBI to reach 100 for the seventh time,
Jon Lieber pitched seven shutout innings and Alex Rodriguez hit a
three-run homer Thursday night to lead New York to its second
straight win, 9-1 over the Cleveland Indians.
With its AL East lead over second-place Boston cut to 3½ games
from 10½ on Aug. 16, the Yankees have faced a torrent of questions
this week, especially following Tuesday night's 22-0 loss to the
Indians. New York rebounded with a 5-3 victory Wednesday, then
quickly broke on top Thursday.
"A game like that can wake you up," Sheffield said. "We
looked like we were just trying to get the schedule over with. We
got a wake-up call. Now we've got a pennant race going."
But even with the two wins, the Yankees failed to increase their
margin over the Red Sox, who beat Anaheim 4-3 to sweep a three-game
series. The Red Sox have won 21 of their last 25 games.
"The other night was a dark time," Yankees manager Joe Torre
said. "Hopefully, it increases our determination to show ourselves
what kind of a team we are."
Sheffield hit an RBI single off third baseman Casey Blake in the
second, had a run-scoring double in the fourth against Kazuhito
Tadano, doubled again in the sixth and added a sacrifice fly in the
eighth to raise his RBI total to 101. He became only the second
player to reach 100 RBI with five teams, according to the Elias
Sports Bureau, the first since Hall of Famer Dan Brouthers from
Fans periodically serenaded Sheffield with chants of "M-V-P!
"If they decide it, I guess I win it," said Sheffield, wearing
a Jim Brown No. 32 Cleveland Browns jersey after the game.
Lieber (10-8) followed Orlando Hernandez's seven innings of
one-run ball Wednesday with a stellar effort of his own. He let
just one runner get past first base, giving up five hits, striking
out three and walking one.
"It's great, especially with what this team did to us a couple
of days ago," he said. "I know it's still fresh in my mind, my
Lieber, New York's fifth starter at the beginning of the season,
and Hernandez (6-0), who missed the first half while recovering
from shoulder surgery, have combined for 16 wins, exactly half the
total of New York's top three starters, Kevin Brown (10-3), Mike
Mussina (9-8) and Javier Vazquez (13-8).
Still regaining arm strength following elbow surgery in August
2002, Lieber had his first scoreless outing since pitching eight
shutout innings for the Chicago Cubs against the New York Mets on
April 9, 2002.
"I finally can say I felt like my old self tonight," Lieber
Paul Quantrill pitched the eighth and was followed by Steve
Karsay, who had been sidelined since the end of the 2002 season
with back and shoulder injuries that needed operations. After
receiving a big ovation when he was introduced, Karsay allowed a
home run on his first pitch to Victor Martinez.
"Not really the way I envisioned starting out after two
years," Karsay said. "I guess he didn't get the memo that I
haven't pitched in two years, to kind of take a pitch and see what
Miguel Cairo also homered for the Yankees, giving him homers in
consecutive games for the first time in his career, and Bernie
Williams had an RBI single.
Martinez was Cleveland's lone bright spot, reaching 100 RBI for
the first time.
"Leading 9-0, I didn't think they wanted to walk anybody," he
said. "I was just looking for a fastball. He gave me the fastball,
right down the middle."
Lee allowed six runs and five hits in 1 2-3 innings, falling to
0-6 in nine starts since beating Seattle on July 16, which made him
"I don't know the answer," he said. "I need to change
something. I don't know what it is, but I need to do it pretty
Rodriguez grounded out on a blooper pitch from Tadano with
Sheffield on second, ending the sixth inning. ... New York has won
10 of its last 11 home games against Cleveland. ... The crowd of
37,963 was the smallest at Yankee Stadium since June 27, a makeup
game against the Mets in which the turnstile count (37,305) was
used instead of tickets sold for the opener of a day-night
doubleheader. ... The series marked the start an 11-game homestand
for the Yankees, who play three games against Baltimore this
weekend followed by five against Tampa Bay, including a Labor Day