Melky's 11th-inning walkoff lifts Yanks in Ponson's debut

NEW YORK (AP) -- A blown call in the ninth inning keyed a big
rally in the rain that kept the New York Yankees' winning streak

Melky Cabrera homered leading off the 11th and New York pulled
out a rain-delayed 5-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday
night, making manager Joe Torre a winner on his 66th birthday.

Playing a giddy Johnny Damon at first base in extra innings
after a disputed call led to the tying run, the streaking Yankees
won their fifth straight and ninth in 10 games.

"The guys keep fighting. It's really good to see," said Sidney
Ponson, who pitched into the seventh during an encouraging Yankees

Richie Sexson hit a three-run homer and Joel Pineiro held a
depleted New York lineup in check for six-plus innings before the
Yankees came back against J.J. Putz.

They were trailing 4-2 when Andy Phillips doubled leading off
the ninth, and he scored on a one-out single by pinch-hitter Aaron

As thunder crackled and a heavy rain began to fall, pinch-runner
Bubba Crosby advanced to second on Putz's wild pitch.

Then the Yankees got a huge break.

Second baseman Jose Lopez made a sliding grab of Jorge Posada's
grounder on the slick outfield grass, found a firm grip and threw a
strike to first. But umpire Mike Reilly called the slow-footed
Posada safe -- replays clearly showed he was out -- leaving runners
at the corners.

"I didn't think it was close. I think you guys saw the
replay," Putz said. "You've got to live with it. He made the

The Mariners screamed in protest, and a white towel came sailing
out of Seattle's dugout. Manager Mike Hargrove charged out to argue
and was quickly ejected by Reilly.

"Obviously, I thought he missed it," Hargrove said. "He said
he didn't miss it, he got it right."

Damon followed with a sacrifice fly that tied it at 4. It was
Putz's third blown save in 20 chances.

Reilly, the crew chief, halted play with a 3-1 count on Alex
Rodriguez, who didn't start because of a sore toe. After a delay of
1 hour, 58 minutes, he struck out looking against Julio Mateo.

But Cabrera drove a 2-1 pitch from Mateo (5-4) just over the
short porch in right for his fourth homer and raised his arms high
as he rounded first.

"I was just trying to make good contact and get on base,"
Cabrera said through a translator.

Scott Proctor (3-2) worked a hitless 11th for the win.

When the Yankees ran out of backups, Damon moved from center
field to first base in the 10th, drawing a roar from the few
thousand fans remaining. It was the first time he's played the
infield in his major league career.

"I was thinking about taking some groundballs at first base
today. But it was too hot," Damon said. "Joe didn't really want
me to go out at first for another inning with Ichiro coming up."

Phillips also moved from first base to second for the first time
in his career.

Seattle has lost four in a row and 10 of 12.

Rodriguez's replacement at third, Nick Green, went 3-for-3 with
two doubles. Phillips homered and Jason Giambi drove in a run, but
Pineiro was in control most of the night.

Signed last Friday to replace struggling right-hander Shawn
Chacon at the back of the rotation, Ponson kept New York in the

He allowed four runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings, striking
out five and walking three. The 29-year-old right-hander, who has
had problems with alcohol, left to a boisterous ovation from the
crowd of 52,992.

"There's still a ways to go, but I'm happy about it," Ponson
said. "I was nervous. When I'm too strong, I have a tendency to
fly open and I have trouble throwing strikes."

Ponson started 4-0 for St. Louis this season but lost his final
four decisions with the Cardinals and was designated for assignment
on July 7.

He walked two of his first three batters Tuesday before Sexson
hit his 18th homer on a hanging breaking ball, giving Seattle a 3-0
lead. Ichiro Suzuki blooped an RBI single over a drawn-in infield
in the fifth.

"Ponson was great," Torre said. "The two walks were the
things that got him, but that's not a surprise. He hasn't pitched
in a few weeks. Once he settled in, he was terrific. We're looking
forward to his next start."

Game notes
Seattle CF Adam Jones singled in the seventh for his first
major league hit, ending an 0-for-12 stretch. ... Mariners 3B
Adrian Beltre made a pair of spectacular plays. ... Yankees RHP
Octavio Dotel, working his way back from elbow surgery, struck out
two in a scoreless inning for Double-A Trenton. ... Ponson had a
5.24 ERA in 14 games, including 13 starts, with St. Louis.