Mussina puts together another strong start in Yankees' win

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Yankees want to put Tampa Bay back in its place.

Derek Jeter homered and drove in three runs, Mike Mussina had another strong outing and New York got off to a much better start against the Devil Rays with a 9-1 victory Tuesday night.

Last-place Tampa Bay won the season series a year ago, going 11-8 against New York -- including 6-3 at Yankee Stadium after finishing 0-10 in the Bronx in 2004. The Devil Rays were the first team since the 1974 Detroit Tigers to finish last and beat New York 11 times.

But the Yankees had an easy time in the first of 18 meetings this season.

"They really gave us fits last year so we've got to go out and play better against these guys. This was a good start," Mussina said. "We played the kind of game we want to go out and play every time."

Jason Giambi also knocked in three runs to give him eight RBI in two games. Jeter finished with three hits and scored three times. He has 16 hits in his last 30 at-bats (.533).

Mussina beat 22-year-old lefty Scott Kazmir and shut down a depleted lineup missing Carl Crawford, Jorge Cantu, Aubrey Huff, Julio Lugo and Rocco Baldelli, who has been on the disabled list all season. The Devil Rays, swept in Texas last weekend, have dropped four straight.

"Some of the regular guys not being in the lineup makes it a little more difficult. The show must go on. It's a difficult moment right now, that's all," manager Joe Maddon said.

The Yankees have outscored their opponents 22-3 in winning three in a row, and New York pitchers have allowed only one run in four of their past five games.

"It all starts with pitching. This offense got so much publicity early on, but you're going to win if you pitch," Jeter said. "We've got a lot of guys who know how to pitch."

Pitching at home for the first time this year, Mussina (3-1) yielded only a solo homer to Yankees nemesis Jonny Gomes in six-plus innings. The right-hander allowed four hits, struck out seven and did not walk a batter for his fifth solid outing in five starts this season.

He left with an 8-1 lead and improved to 14-5 against the Devil Rays with his 227th career win.

"He doesn't beat himself. You give him some runs, he knows what to do with it," New York manager Joe Torre said.

Kazmir (2-2) struggled with his control as he often does, walking five in five innings. He gave up four runs -- three earned -- and seven hits, striking out only two.

"In the beginning of the game I was having trouble getting the feel of my slider," Kazmir said. "A couple of pitches I wish I had back. I was thinking about too much instead of throwing it."

Gomes connected in the first inning, his fifth home run in seven games on Tampa Bay's trip. His 10th homer tied the club record for a month, also shared by Jose Canseco (April 1999) and Aubrey Huff (May 2003).

Gomes, who hit .349 with four homers against the Yankees last year, began the day tied for the AL lead in home runs and RBI.

After Kazmir walked leadoff hitter Johnny Damon on four pitches in the bottom half, Jeter drove an 0-2 pitch over the right-center fence. Another run scored on a two-out throwing error by third baseman Ty Wigginton.

"I'm just supposed to get on base for the guys behind me," Jeter said. "Today I was happy because I drove the ball the other way."

Damon delivered a sacrifice fly in the fourth for a 4-1 lead, and the Yankees broke it open with a four-run sixth against Tampa Bay's bullpen. Jeter and Sheffield hit consecutive RBI singles, and Giambi pulled a two-run double down the line past drawn-in first baseman Travis Lee.

Jeter doubled and scored on Giambi's sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Game notes
Crawford missed the game to attend his grandmother's
funeral in Houston and Cantu was a late scratch because of a
bruised left foot. Cantu plans to be examined by a doctor Wednesday
in New York. Crawford is expected to rejoin the team Wednesday. ...
Yankees 2B Miguel Cairo doubled twice, walked and scored from the
No. 9 hole in his fourth start this season. ... New York's
left-handed batters went 2-for-5 with three walks and a sacrifice
fly against Kazmir, who had allowed only three hits in 17 prior
at-bats against lefties. ... The Yankees had lost eight straight
night games. ... Tampa Bay dropped to 1-6 on its nine-game trip.