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Damon's grand slam helps Johnson, Yanks rally past Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Randy Johnson wasn't dominating,
just good enough to hang around and finally beat the Tampa Bay
Devil Rays.

Johnson became the third pitcher in major league history with
4,400 strikeouts and Johnny Damon hit a grand slam Thursday night,
leading the New York Yankees to a 10-5 victory and consecutive wins
on the road for the first time this season.

Johnson (5-2) won his third straight decision despite the third
subpar performance in his last four outings. The left-hander
allowed five runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings, including Ty
Wigginton's two-run homer that gave Tampa Bay a 5-4 lead.

"I expect to pitch extremely well every time out. Everybody
expects me to pitch well, and I'm fine with that. I'm not going
to," Johnson said. "When my team picks me up like they have the
last couple of games, I'm very grateful, as any pitcher would be."

With owner George Steinbrenner watching part of the game from
his suite at Tropicana Field, the Yankees rallied three times to
help Johnson end a three-game losing streak against the Devil Rays
-- the Big Unit's third-longest skid against an opponent.

Alex Rodriguez drove in the go-ahead run when he was hit by a
pitch with the bases loaded in the seventh. That came one pitch
after Chad Orvella forced in the tying run by walking Jason Giambi.

Damon hit his fifth career grand slam in the eighth after the
Yankees filled the bases against Dan Miceli on an error and two
walks. Hideki Matsui hit a solo homer off Tampa Bay starter Doug
Waechter in the second.

In sweeping the two games, the Yankees claimed their first
series away from Yankee Stadium after going 0-4-1 in the first
five.

Johnson became the third pitcher to reach the 4,400-strikeout
plateau when he fanned Nick Green in the fourth inning. He trails
Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Roger Clemens (4,502) on the career list.

"Would I rather win and pitch poorly? Well, at this stage of my
career, wins mean more than anything on this team," said Johnson,
who beat the Devil Rays for the first time since he was with
Seattle in 1998.

Tampa Bay had beaten him three straight times over six starts
with Seattle, Arizona and the Yankees. Only Detroit (six) and
Baltimore (four) have had longer stretches of success against
Johnson.

"He knows what we expect of him. He knows what his teammates
look for when he pitches," New York manager Joe Torre said. "The
only thing you can do is keep working and keep battling, and I saw
that tonight."

The Yankees have trailed in each of their last 10 games, but
have rallied to win seven of them.

Johnson gave up an RBI double to Jonny Gomes in the first and
fell behind 3-1 in the third when Wigginton and Carl Crawford
singled to drive in runs. But every time Tampa Bay scored, New York
responded.

Matsui hit his fourth homer of the season in the second, ending
a stretch of 19 consecutive games without one. He also singled in
the fifth to begin the three-run rally that chased Waechter.

Robinson Cano drove in the first run of the inning with a double
into the right field corner. Williams finished the Devil Rays
starter with a two-run single that put the Yankees ahead 4-3.

Tampa Bay regained the lead on Wigginton's ninth homer, but the
bullpen couldn't hold it.

Gary Sheffield, who sat out the previous three games with a
bruised left wrist, began New York's seventh-inning rally with a
two-out, pinch-hit single off Brian Meadows and Damon followed with
a single off Orvella.

Orvella walked Derek Jeter to load the bases, then walked Giambi
on a 3-2 pitch to force in the tying run. Shawn Camp replaced
Orvella and plunked Rodriguez with a breaking ball to put Yankees
in front for good.

"It's frustrating," Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said of his
team's struggling bullpen.

"But I've watched these guys. One night they're very good, and
then the other night they're not as good, so you know it's in
there. ... I'm not going to give up on these people."

Game notes
Matsui had gone 78 at-bats without a homer. He has homered
three times in 20 career at-bats against Waechter. ... After
attracting the two smallest home crowds in franchise history (7,295
and 7,147) against Texas on Monday and Tuesday, the Devil Rays drew
17,059 and 22,164 for the Yankees series. ... After the game, the
Devil Rays optioned 3B Sean Burroughs to Triple-A Durham and
designated INF Nick Green for assignment. Miceli will be placed on
the 15-day disabled list with shoulder soreness. The team plans to
activate 3B Aubrey Huff (left knee sprain) and SS Julio Lugo
(abdominal strain) from the DL on Friday.