Series: Game 1 of 3

Tampa Bay leads 1-0 (as of 9/23)

Game 1: Monday, September 23
Tampa Bay 3Final
New York 2
Game 2: Tuesday, September 24
Tampa Bay 0Final
New York 6
Game 3: Wednesday, September 25
Tampa Bay 3Final
New York 4
Game 4: Thursday, September 26
Tampa Bay Postponed
New York

Devil Rays 3

(54-102, 24-51 away)

Yankees 2

(98-58, 50-28 home)

    7:05 PM ET, September 23, 2002

    Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York 

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    TB 200010000 3 - -
    NYY 002000000 2 - -

    W: V. Zambrano (7-8)

    L: O. Hernandez (8-5)

    S: E. Yan (19)

    Huff beats Hernandez, whose auditioning

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Every time someone tried to ask Orlando Hernandez about his postseason pitching prospects, El Duque shut them out.

    New York catcher Jorge Posada misses the tag as Tampa Bay's Randy Winn scores in the fifth inning what eventually was the winning run in a 3-2 decision.

    Aubrey Huff had the eighth and final hit off Hernandez, a run-scoring single that broke a fifth-inning tie and led the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Monday night.

    New York (98-58) missed an opportunity to move into a tie with Oakland (99-57) for the American League's best record.

    ''We haven't gotten to the postseason yet,'' Hernandez said through a translator. ''We still have games to play here, and that's what I'm worried about.''

    Hernandez has a career record of 9-2 in the postseason with a 2.48 ERA, but he could be the odd man out in the playoffs if manager Joe Torre decides to go with a four-man rotation. The top three spots would figure to go to Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina and David Wells.

    Hernandez (8-5) retired 12 consecutive batters after Huff's tiebreaking hit, but the Yankees couldn't get their offense in gear as they had their three-game winning streak snapped.

    While Hernandez deflected all questions about postseason ramifications, Torre said the outing Monday night would have no bearing on his plans. The Yankees have already clinched the AL East.

    ''I don't think anybody can pitch themselves on or off at this point,'' Torre said. ''I know it's assumed that Duque is out of the mix, but that has not been decided.''

    Victor Zambrano (7-8) allowed six hits and a pair of unearned runs, getting into trouble only once in six innings. Wilson Alvarez worked two innings of relief and Esteban Yan pitched the ninth for his 19th save.

    Huff, one of the hottest hitters in the majors since July 19 with 96 hits in 262 at-bats (.366), also had an RBI in Tampa Bay's two-run first inning. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk.

    Alfonso Soriano went 2-for-3 for the Yankees but did not hit a home run. With 39 homers and an AL-leading 41 stolen bases, Soriano is seeking to become the fourth 40-40 player in major league history. He lined out to right with a runner on first to end the game.

    ''He's the buzz in the dugout,'' Torre said. ''Everybody sort of looked at each other because he was the winning run and there he was. It was dramatic, but it wasn't meant to be.''

    Bernie Williams went 2-for-3, giving him 199 hits and raising his average two points to .336. He is third in the AL batting race behind Kansas City's Mike Sweeney and Boston's Manny Ramirez.

    Tampa Bay scored two runs in the first before Hernandez started to settle down. Huff drove in a run on a fielder's choice, beating out a potential double-play grounder, and Ben Grieve added a sharply hit run-scoring double to the gap in right-center.

    Hernandez gave up eight hits, walked two, threw a wild pitch and hit a batter in his first four-plus innings. After that, he had three of his eight strikeouts and did not allow another baserunner.

    Torre said Hernandez made only one mistake all night, while catcher Jorge Posada said there were two -- both of them in the first inning; one to Huff, the other to Grieve.

    Hernandez defensively maintained that none of his pitches were bad.

    ''He had a winning effort tonight. We just didn't score enough runs,'' Torre said.

    The Yankees have not hit a home run in four games -- their longest homerless drought since Sept. 11-14, 1998.

    New York tied it at 2 in the third on a two-run single by Posada, but they did not put a runner in scoring position the rest of the night.

    Game notes

    Jason Giambi, who missed the previous three games with a stiff back, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. ... Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for New York, his second appearance since coming off the disabled list. He faced three batters, broke three bats and allowed one hit. ... Tampa Bay did not allow a home run for the first time in 18 games. ... Soriano was hit by a pitch leading off the first inning. It was the 88th hit batsman by Devil Rays pitchers, five shy of the major league record set by the Red Sox last season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press