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Wilson swats HR, drives in three runs

5/23/2004

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Seven weeks into the season, Enrique
Wilson finally has more hits than he had during spring training.

Yes, his spring was that good. And his regular season has been
that bad.

Wilson showed signs Sunday that he's returning to his early
March form, getting three hits, including a homer, and driving in
three runs to help the Yankees beat the Texas Rangers 8-3. New York
avoided a three-game sweep in Alex Rodriguez's first trip back to
Arlington.

Wilson went 3-for-5 in this game and 5-for-11 in the series. He
also had his first two homers of the season and just missed another
with a 400-foot out to the deepest part of the ballpark in his
first at-bat Sunday.

He pulled the ball his next time up for a two-run homer off R.A.
Dickey (4-4), putting New York ahead 4-2 in the fourth inning.
Wilson doubled in a run in the sixth to start a three-run rally
that broke the game open, sending Javier Vazquez (4-4) to his first
win since April 30.

"I feel very good about myself right now," said Wilson, who
credited his turnaround to better pitch selection and time in the
batting cage. "I'm seeing the ball a lot better. I'm almost about
where I was in spring training."

To acquire A-Rod from Texas, the Yankees gave up Alfonso
Soriano, their second baseman the last three years. Wilson won the
opening day job by hitting an AL-best .463 this spring, going
18-for-39.

His slow start to the real games allowed Miguel Cairo to see
extended action. Once he began to struggle, manager Joe Torre went
back to Wilson. He came into the series hitting just .177 and was
in an 0-for-17 skid before hitting a home run Friday night. He
leaves town batting .211 (19-for-90).

Torre said his plan for second base is to go with whoever is
playing better. While that's certainly Wilson, the Yankees' next
game Tuesday is against a left-hander and Cairo is the better
right-handed hitter. However, Torre said he might let Wilson try to
keep his streak going.

"They understand they're going to get their games in," Torre
said. "I think we have a good situation."

Kenny Lofton opened the game with a triple and scored on the
play when shortstop Michael Young bounced a throw into the netting
in front of the Yankees' dugout for an error.

Vazquez gave up the lead with RBI singles to the Nos. 8 and 9
hitters with two outs in the second inning, but steadied after
that. He allowed three runs and six hits in six innings with six
strikeouts.

"I'd forgotten how it feels to get a win," he said.

Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with a single, double, two strikeouts and
a walk. He was 5-for-13 in the series with a homer, two RBI and
three runs, and was booed in every at-bat. He also extended his
streak of consecutive games reaching base to 32, longest in the
majors this season.

"For the most part, I had a good series," said Rodriguez, who
also enjoyed a Saturday night dinner at his favorite restaurant in
Dallas. "It was fun, exciting. The fans were a heck of a lot of
fun."

He also was relieved that this was nothing like his first trip
back to Seattle in 2001 after he left the Mariners for a record
$252 million, 10-year contract.

"I was with him in Seattle. Those were hatred boos," said
Young, who has gone from Rodriguez's double-play partner at second
base to his replacement at shortstop. "These were
we're-annoyed-with-you boos."

Rodriguez's return certainly helped sell tickets.

With a crowd of 50,241 on Sunday, the Rangers drew 148,894 for
the three-game series, topping their previous best -- the first
interleague series against the Houston Astros in 2001 -- by more
than 10,000. This turnout was the second-best for a regular-season
game in team history, behind only this season's opener.

The fans enjoyed it, too, as the Rangers took a home series from
New York for the first time since 1996.

Soriano went 3-for-13 with a homer in his first series against
his former team. He also had a fielding error Sunday, his fourth of
the season.

Dickey allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings, keeping
him winless in four starts since throwing 131 pitches in a win over
Boston.

Game notes
Texas manager Buck Showalter turned 48 Sunday. The loss
dropped him to 2-6 on his birthday. ... When Rangers RF Kevin Mench
threw out Rodriguez at home to end the top of the first inning, he
aggravated an injury on his left side. He left for a pinch-hitter
in the second. Showalter said Mench might go on the disabled list.
... Lofton left in the bottom of the sixth with tightness in his
left hamstring. He said he doesn't expect to miss any games.