Martinez's homer streak ends

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- One hit, a mere single, was monumental for Jason Giambi at this stage -- such a ridiculous notion for a slugger and former AL MVP.

Giambi finally got a hit to slow his long slump and the New York Yankees produced plenty of offense even without a home run from Tino Martinez.

Gary Sheffield hit a two-run homer and Tony Womack tripled in two runs to lead the Yankees to their season-best sixth straight victory, 9-4 over the slumping Oakland Athletics on Friday night.

And in this game, Giambi's hit meant nearly as much as Sheffield's shot.

"I come to the park every day, saying, 'Hey, today's the day I'm going to get that hit,'" said Giambi, hitless in his previous 18 at-bats before lining a single to right in the ninth. "There's no more pressure on me than I want to play well. I'm my own hardest critic. It seems like the harder you try, the worse you do in this game. I have a lot of confidence in my ability, and I came in with a great game plan from [hitting coach] Donnie [Mattingly]."

Mike Mussina (4-2) won his third straight start, striking out a season-high nine in seven strong innings as the Yankees won six in a row for the first time since last season's playoffs -- just before their historic collapse in the AL Championship Series against the
eventual World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

The 37-year-old Martinez, who had homered in five straight games, went 0-for-3 with a walk, two days after hitting a game-tying three-run shot against Seattle. Hideki Matsui drove in two runs for New York.

Giambi went 1-for-4, flailing miserably in his first three at-bats before lining a ninth-inning single to right to end a 4-for-41 slump and raise his batting average to .198. Two days after declining a trip to the minors, the former A's slugger began a stretch of planned playing time in an effort to save his job.

"I'm not looking to try to build Rome in a day, either," Giambi said. "I'm just going to try to stay on that path, working hard."

He hit eighth in the order -- the same spot where he was Sunday for the first time since 1997 while with the A's -- and went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his first three at-bats.

He struck out looking on three pitches in the second, flied out to right in the fourth and struck out again on a half-swing in the seventh when he was seemingly begging to get walked -- getting booed lustily each time.

Manager Joe Torre will give Giambi a chance to play his way out of this drought. Giambi, the 34-year-old former AL MVP, is expected to be in the lineup for most of this six-game trip West, and the Yankees' brass will re-evaluate the situation after seeing what he does with the added playing time.

"It was nice to see Jason get the base hit," Torre said. "He certainly needed that. ... We'll see. He has a long way to go. The more at-bats he produces, the better he'll feel."

Sheffield hit his sixth homer in the first on a shot to left that cleared the scoreboard, and Womack tripled to right-center in the third.

A's starter Rich Harden (2-3) left in the fourth inning with a strained left stomach muscle after Martinez flied out to center, and it will likely land the right-hander and No. 2 starter on the disabled list. Harden threw two balls to Jorge Posada and then showed signs of trouble, and manager Ken Macha and trainer Larry Davis ran
to the mound.

Harden will have an MRI on Monday to determine the severity.

"I'm not too happy right now," Harden said. "We'll see how it is in the morning. You can't tell right now. I kind of felt it in one of the pitches in the last inning."

Jason Kendall doubled twice and drove in a run and Eric Byrnes
hit a two-run double for the A's, who kicked off their six-game homestand with their season-worst sixth straight loss. Oakland (14-21), which made the playoffs in four of the past five seasons, has lost nine of 10 overall to fall seven games below .500 for the
first time in exactly four years -- they were 15-22 on May 13, 2001.

Keith Ginter added an RBI groundout in the seventh for the A's and Bobby Kielty added two hits.

But Mussina made it hard for Oakland to do much else as he snapped a four-game losing streak in the Coliseum. This was his first regular-season victory here since Aug. 2, 1997, while with Baltimore.

"This is as good as I've felt so far this year," he said. "But once one's over, you've got to prepare for the next one. This was a good win for us."

A's general manager Billy Beane addressed Macha and his coaching staff in a closed-door meeting earlier in the day to discuss the state of the team.

Not surprisingly, first baseman Dan Johnson's name came up in the meeting. Oakland's top hitting prospect began the day batting .305 with six homers and 29 RBI in 34 games for Triple-A Sacramento, and he seems ready for a promotion.

Game notes
Kendall snapped an 0-for-18 slump with a third-inning RBI double. ... A's reliever Keiichi Yabu got Japanese countryman Matsui to ground out in the sixth. ... A's starters have just five wins this year. ... New York took two of three from the A's last week in New York, both shutout wins. ... With a runner in scoring position and two outs, Mussina got Marco Scutaro to ground out in a 10-pitch at-bat on the right-hander's 114th pitch. ... The Yankees' last six-game winning streak in the regular season was last May 23-29.