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Yankees improve to four games over .500

NEW YORK (AP) -- Nothing gets between Derek Jeter and a flyball --
not even a teammate.

Jeter made a spectacular tumbling catch while colliding into
teammate Robinson Cano in the seventh inning to protect Chien-Ming
Wang's lead Wednesday night in the New York Yankees' 4-2 win over
the Detroit Tigers.

"That was the best play I've ever seen," Yankees catcher Jorge
Posada said. "That play last year when he went into the stands, he
just ran out of field."

With runners on first and second with one out in the seventh and
the Yankees ahead by two runs, Marcus Thames hit fly into shallow
center field. Running full speed with his back to the plate, the
Yankees captain banged into Cano, who was chasing from second base.
Jeter reached over his shorter teammate to make the catch, and the
pair fell to the ground, with Jeter landing on top of Cano.

"I thought I could get it when he hit it," Jeter said. "I
didn't even know Cano was coming."

At first, Jeter thought he collided with center fielder Bernie
Williams. Cano was surprised Jeter got near the ball.

"I don't know where he came from," the rookie said.

There were no significant injuries on the play -- Cano said he
got spiked above his right ankle but was OK -- unlike Jeter's
remarkable 12th-inning catch against the Boston Red Sox last July
1. On that play, running all out, Jeter made the catch near the
left-field line behind third base. Unable to stop, he dived
headfirst into the stands and bloodied his face and bruised his
shoulder.

"The one against Boston wasn't really hard to catch, it was the
afterwards," Jeter said.

The crowd chanted "Jeter! Jeter!" as he retrieved his cap and
serenaded him with a sing-song chorus of "Der-ek Jeter," when he
returned to shortstop.

"Two guys colliding and it doesn't fall in -- that's why he's
one of the best shortstops in the game," Thames said.

Back in the lineup after being hit by a pitch near his left hip
Tuesday night and leaving for a pinch-runner, Alex Rodriguez struck
out with the bases loaded in the third, then hit a run-scoring
double against Mike Maroth off the wall in left to snap a 1-all tie
in the sixth.

"I wasn't worried about striking out; Maroth made a perfect
pitch," Rodriguez said. "When the opportunity came up again, I
came through. It was nice.

The Yankees, who twice left the bases loaded, won for the 14th
time in 16 games, moved a season-high four games over .500 at 25-21
and closed within a half-game of second-place Boston in the AL
East. Just two of the wins have come against teams with records
above .500 when the games were played.

Despite Tigers designated hitter Dmitri Young's pregame
insistence that the struggling Tigers would not back down if there
was any fallout from Tuesday's game, there was no trouble, even
after Rondell White was hit by a pitch by Wang in the seventh.
Tempers flared in the Yankees' 12-3 win Tuesday after Yankees
reliever Paul Quantrill hit Jason Smith with a pitch in retaliation
for Rodriguez being hit.

Wang retired his first nine batters before giving up a leadoff
single to Brandon Inge in the fourth inning. After Ivan Rodriguez
hit an RBI single to make it 1-all, he got Young to ground into a
double play. In the sixth, Wang got Rodriguez to ground into an
inning ending double play with runners on first and third.

"He was great," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He got into
a little trouble, then got Pudge to hit into a double play. He
doesn't lose his cool."

Wang (3-1) was removed from his fifth major league start with
runners on first and third and one out in the seventh to a warm
ovation from the crowd of 51,833. Looking down, he shyly tipped his
capped as he left, having allowed two runs and five hits.

Mike Stanton relieved and gave up an RBI single to pinch-hitter
Ramon Martinez that pulled Detroit to 4-2, but Tanyon Sturtze, with
help from Jeter's catch, quashed the rally.

Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his 10th save. He is
10-for-10 since blowing his first two chances of the season -- both
against the Red Sox, who start at three-game series at Yankee
Stadium on Friday.

New York took the early lead on Gary Sheffield's RBI single in
the first, scoring Jeter.

The Yankees loaded the bases in the third inning on Tino
Martinez's leadoff single, Jeter's double and, after an out, an
intentional walk to Sheffield but Maroth (4-4) got Hideki Matsui to
ground to first baseman Carlos Pena, who threw home for the force.
He then struck out Rodriguez looking to end the inning.

New York chased Maroth in the sixth, putting the first four
runners on. Sheffield walked, and Matsui had an infield hit before
Rodriguez hit his double. Posada ended Maroth's night with a
two-run single to make it 4-1.

"I think I could have done a better job of mixing up my
pitches," said Maroth, who gave up four runs and eight hits in
five-plus innings.

Game notes
The Yankees clinched winning their sixth straight series.
... The gametime temperature was 51 degrees. ... Martinez snapped
an 0-for-12 slide with a single in the third. He batted ninth for
the first time in his career. ... Maroth picked Posada off first in
the fourth.