NEW YORK (AP) -- With pressure mounting on the New York Yankees
to stop their sorry slide, Chien-Ming Wang stepped on the mound for his first major-league game and didn't look nervous at all.
As several fans waved Taiwanese flags in the stands on a rainy afternoon, Wang held Toronto to six singles in seven innings and left with a one-run lead. Tom Gordon allowed a tying homer to Corey Koskie in the eighth, but Tony Womack hit a game-winning single in the ninth inning Saturday that gave the Yankees a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays."He made it look pretty easy," Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina
said. "Maybe we're all trying too hard and we should just go out and do what he did. He looked pretty good."New York, which stopped a three-game losing streak, is 10-14 -- its first losing April since 1991. Before the game, manager Joe Torre said he held meetings with players in the middle of the month because he "just didn't like the feel of the team.""But the last couple of days, I just sense the different personality, which I like better," he said. "The last couple of days, my feeling has been we got the fight back in us now."Alex Rodriguez, who has provided most of the Yankees' offense lately, did it again with a solo homer. He hit his major league-leading ninth home run this season and fifth of the week. He also walked leading off the ninth to start the winning rally.Wang, a 25-year-old right-hander from Taiwan, allowed a bunt single, two other infield hits and three singles to the outfield -- all to left-handed batters. Wang (pronounced "Wong") retired his first 10 hitters before Orlando Hudson chopped a single to second base in the fourth."This is, in my opinion, my typical performance," he said in Mandarin, through a translator. "I did feel a little bit sort of loss of control on the ball, especially when it was raining pretty hard."He allowed his only runs in the fifth, when Eric Hinske singled leading off, Alex Rios walked, Russ Adams hit an RBI groundout and Frank Catalanotto singled with two outs off Rodriguez's glove at third, just beating shortstop Derek Jeter's throw as Rios crossed the plate.Wang is just the third major-leaguer from Taiwan, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, following Chin-Feng Chen, who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2002-04, and Colorado pitcher Chin-hui Tsao. Taking the spot in the rotation that opened when Jaret Wright
hurt his shoulder, Wang took the mound with the Yankees 6½ games back in the AL East, their biggest deficit since September 1997."I did not completely realize that urgency," Wang said. "However, what I did feel is that as long as I do what I've always been doing, it should be just fine."He started eight of his first 12 batters with strikes and 18 of 29 in all. Toronto manager John Gibbons called him "sneaky" and said he thought Wang "did very well for a rookie.""He was so poised out there, especially here at the stadium," Rodriguez said. "It was a nice lift, and hopefully it can bring some energy here for a while."Torre said it was the best start by a rookie for the Yankees since he took over as manager in 1996."We haven't had a great deal of young pitchers that made it," Torre said, citing Ramiro Mendoza as the only rookie pitcher to break in successfully with the Yankees in the past decade. "Today was very impressive in light of the fact that we've been struggling to score runs, to win games."Mariano Rivera (2-1) pitched a perfect ninth for the win in his first outing since April 21.After Vinnie Chulk (0-1) walked Rodriguez, Tino Martinez's
one-out single to right put runners on first and third. Pinch-hitter Jorge Posada was intentionally walked, loading the bases, and Womack's single ended Toronto's four-game winning streak."That hurts, that leadoff walk," Chulk said. "I wasn't throwing first-pitch strikes, so that's the bottom line."David Bush, who beat the Yankees with a two-hit shutout last October, allowed hits to his first three batters. Jeter scored from first on a single by Bernie Williams that bounced off Hudson into left-center, and Hideki Matsui, in a 2-for-25 slide, hit into a run-scoring double play. Bush allowed his only other run on Rodriguez's fourth-inning homer, his eighth at home, a Yankee Stadium record for April.Few other Yankees will want to remember the month."I only look at the standings when we're in first place," Torre said. "Right now my goal is .500. As a Yankee manager, that's not very lofty goals. But that's the first stop."
The start was delayed 56 minutes by rain. ... Yankees DH Jason Giambi left after his second at-bat because a cramp in his right forearm, which he said was caused by too much batting practice. ... Rodriguez is the only New York player to homer since last Sunday.