NEW YORK (AP) -- Gary Sheffield is not about to let his injured
leg get in the way of the Yankees' drive for a playoff spot.
Sheffield hit a grand slam and drove in six runs, Jorge Posada
added a three-run homer and New York kept the pressure on in a pair
of playoff races Tuesday night with a 12-9 victory over the
The Yankees (87-63) have won eight of nine and climbed 24 games
above .500 for the first time this season. New York remained a
half-game behind first-place Boston in the AL East and moved within
a half-game of Cleveland in the wild-card race.
"This team is resilient," Sheffield said. "We don't quit. Now
we're starting to come into our own."
A strained thigh muscle forced Sheffield to miss four games and
has kept him from playing the outfield since his return, but he was
strong enough to lead the Yankees to a win on a night that unbeaten
Aaron Small was not sharp.
"The thing about Sheff is, even if he's not 100 percent he's
still intimidating," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "You just
feel he's going to find a way to get it done."
Small (9-0) allowed four runs and 10 hits in five-plus innings,
the shortest of his eight starts this season. Benefiting from an
offense that has scored 36 runs in his last four starts, he became
the first pitcher to win his first nine decisions for the Yankees
since Tommy John in 1979.
"Every game is so magnified and so crucial right now," Small
said. "It doesn't matter how you get it done as long as you win.
They don't have to be pretty as long as you get them done."
But the win did not come easily. The Orioles got 18 hits, put at
least one runner on in every inning and forced the Yankees to use
closer Mariano Rivera in a non-save situation.
"It was tough," Torre said. "Normally when you don't get a
1-2-3 inning you don't come away with a victory."
Alex Rodriguez hit his 45th homer, an opposite-field solo shot
into the upper deck in right, and Sheffield added an RBI single in
the eighth after the Orioles closed within three runs.
Baltimore rookie John Maine (2-2) didn't get an out in the
second inning, and All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts also left
in the second after his left elbow was dislocated in a collision
with Bubba Crosby while covering first base on a bunt.
Sheffield's RBI double and Posada's 17th homer gave New York a
4-0 lead in the first, but Roberts delivered a two-run triple
during a three-run second. The Yankees answered right back by
batting around in the bottom half.
Crosby crashed into Roberts' outstretched left arm, snapping it
back. Roberts dropped the ball and went to the ground in tremendous
pain, allowing Williams to jog home from third.
Interim manager Sam Perlozzo was ejected by plate umpire Sam
Holbrook, perhaps for arguing that Crosby ran inside the baseline,
and missed his team's sloppy play that helped New York score four
more in the inning.
"I really wasn't arguing in the first place," Perlozzo said.
"I was asking whether the runner was in the baseline. I was upset
that my player was in so much pain. End of story."
Derek Jeter bounced back to the mound, but instead of possibly
starting a double play, Maine fumbled the ball for an error that
put runners at first and second.
"That's embarrassing," Maine said. "It's just a comebacker
and I messed it up."
James Baldwin relieved and got Rodriguez to fly out. Jason
Giambi hit a high pop into short left field that shortstop Miguel
Tejada called for but couldn't come up with, and Sheffield followed
with his 10th career slam, and first since May 17, 2003, with
Sheffield hadn't had an extra-base hit since a home run in
Seattle on Aug. 31, but didn't blame his injury.
"I always feel like I can play through anything," he said.
Maine allowed seven runs, six earned, and six hits.
Jay Gibbons hit a two-run homer, his 23rd, in the seventh, but
the Orioles lost for the 20th time in 30 games.
The Yankees have six grand slams this season. ... Perlozzo
said he plans to speak with Rafael Palmeiro soon to see what the
first baseman's plans are for the rest of the season. Palmeiro fell
into a deep slump after returning from his suspension for a
positive steroids test and was sent home to Texas to rest knee and
ankle injuries earlier this month.