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Matsui's elusive baserunning sparks Yankees

6/11/2003

NEW YORK (AP) -- In a game full of little twists, Hideki Matsui
turned things in the New York Yankees' favor.

Matsui produced three hits and a nifty bit of baserunning, and
Mike Mussina stopped his four-game losing streak as the Yankees
beat Houston 5-3 Tuesday night, ending the Astros' seven-game
winning string.

Jorge Posada added a two-run homer as the Yankees won the first
regular-season game between the teams.

"We have a long homestand and we haven't played that well
here,'' Mussina said. "Hopefully, this is a good start.''

Starting a stretch of 10 games in a row at home, the Yankees
took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. Matsui led off
with a double and moved up on a groundout, but was trapped off the
bag on Raul Mondesi's sharp grounder to third baseman Morgan
Ensberg.

"He was stuck in no man's land,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre
said.

But Matsui twisted away from the tag -- he stepped on the grass
in foul territory to get away -- and ran home when Ensberg threw to
first. Ensberg seemed shocked to find out third-base umpire Dana
DeMuth had called Matsui safe, and Astros manager Jimy Williams
came out to argue.

"I never really learned it anywhere,'' Matsui said of his move,
through a translator. "I actually thought I was out, and when I
looked at the umpire, he said I was safe. When I saw the third
baseman throw to first, I ran home.''

Ensberg was sure he tagged Matsui, although TV replays indicated
he missed.

"I felt the tag, I touched him. He ran into my glove,'' he
said. "You tag, and you turn and throw.''

Summed up Mussina: ``You come to this game and every day you're
going to see something you've never seen before. That was
today's.''

Houston was trying to post its longest winning streak since
taking 12 in a row in 1999. Craig Biggio and Ensberg homered for
the Astros.

Mussina (8-4) had struggled since winning his first seven starts
of the season. He matched the longest losing skid of his career
over a span of five starts, going winless since May 7.

He blanked Houston on three hits over the first five innings
before giving up Biggio's two-run homer. Mussina escaped a
bases-loaded jam later in the sixth when Richard Hidalgo lined into
a double play, and left after the seventh.

"The biggest pitch of the day was that rocket to third base
that turned into a double play,'' Mussina said.

Antonio Osuna gave up Ensberg's homer on his first pitch in the
eighth. Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his sixth save in seven
chances.

Posada's homer and a lucky bounce helped the Yankees take a 3-0
lead in the fifth against Wade Miller (4-7).

Alfonso Soriano got an infield hit with one out and Derek Jeter
followed with a grounder that skipped up and handcuffed second
baseman Jeff Kent. Instead of turning a double play, Kent could
only throw out Jeter.

"The ball got to me pretty quickly, but I just didn't make the
play,'' Kent said.

Soriano moved to second on the play and scored when Jason Giambi
looped an RBI single. Posada then hit his 15th home run.

Matsui hit an RBI single in the eighth. He has 13 hits in his
last 19 at-bats.

Biggio's homer made it an even more special day for the Astros
star raised on Long Island. He played his first game at Yankee
Stadium, and made sure to tour Monument Park with his 10- and
8-year-old sons before batting practice.

"It was a tough game to lose, but hitting a home run at Yankee
Stadium was pretty cool,'' Biggio said.

Game notes
Mussina also lost four straight in 2000 with Baltimore. ...
Mussina struck out six and leads the AL with 94. ... Jeff Bagwell
has gone a career-high 125 at-bats without a home run. The Houston
star doubled in four at-bats in his first game at Yankee Stadium.
... Astros OF Lance Berkman extended his hitting streak to 16
games. His career best was 21 in 2001. ... The Astros fell to 6-1
in interleague play this season. They swept Baltimore and Tampa Bay
earlier. ... The Yankees improved to 14-15 at home. They are 22-12
on the road. ... The Yankees homered in their 12th straight game.
... New York hitters struck out six times. The Yankees had fanned
at least 10 times in four straight games, their longest such streak
since 1965.