Booming Bernie powers Yankees past lowly Royals

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Yankees need big contributions from
Bernie Williams and Randy Johnson if they are going to make the
playoffs, and both delivered Friday night.

Williams hit a pair of two-run homers, helping Johnson win for
the first time in a month and leading the Yankees over the Kansas
City Royals 5-1.

Alex Rodriguez also homered, helping the Yankees beat the Royals
for the first time this season. New York lost all three games at
Kansas City from May 31-June 2 in Buddy Bell's first series as
Royals manager, part of a season-high six-game losing streak.

"We are making our push," Williams said. "We are obviously
trying to catch up for the shaky start we had."

Johnson (12-8) allowed four hits and struck out six in eight
innings. He had been 0-2 with a 6.49 ERA in four starts since
beating Minnesota in the Yankees' 4-0 victory on July 26.

"That was as good as I've seen him, just in the attack mode,"
Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

The Big Unit blamed poor mechanics for his somewhat
disappointing first season in New York. But he sorted some things
out while throwing off a mound after his last start -- he usually
works off flat ground between outing -- and the results showed

"It's been a mechanics thing all year long and will continue to
be so," he said. "It all comes down to mechanics and that's one
reason I've been inconsistent with my velocity."

Williams hit his 11th homer in the sixth, two batters after
Rodriguez homered. He added another drive in the eighth for his
first multihomer game since Sept. 13, 2003, against Tampa Bay.
Williams has driven in 17 runs in his last 14 games.

"I think Bernie is motivated by the game situation, the time of
year," Torre said. "He just seems to perform well."

Mariano Rivera finished the six-hitter. New York (71-56) moved
15 games over .500 for the first time this season and remained tied
with Oakland (71-56) for the AL wild card lead, less than one
percentage point in front of Cleveland (72-57).

Mike Wood (4-5), the winning pitcher last Saturday when Kansas
City beat Oakland to snap its 19-game losing streak, allowed three
runs and seven hits in six innings. The Royals had followed their
skid by winning four of five, but Friday's loss dropped them to 0-9
at Yankee Stadium since Aug. 6, 2002.

"Their big guy was pretty good tonight. Great stuff, pretty
good location to go along with it," Bell said. "Facing a guy like
that, you've got to take advantage of any situations you've got. We
didn't get any tonight."

Johnson gave up four homers in an inning for the first time in
his career on Sunday in a loss at Chicago. The only homers Friday
were ones that helped him.

Rodriguez drove the first pitch he saw in the sixth in the
center-field bleachers for his league-leading 38th homer. He joined
Williams and former Yankee Danny Tartabull as the only players with
three home runs into the black batter's eye since the remodeled
stadium reopened in 1976.

Jason Giambi then walked for the third time and Williams hit the
next pitch to right, giving the Yankees a 3-0 lead and earning a
curtain call. He got another one after his eighth-inning drive.

Mike Sweeney doubled to open the seventh and scored on Angel
Berroa's one-out single for Kansas City's lone run.

Wood pitched out of trouble twice to keep the game tied until
the sixth. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first by getting
Williams to ground out. The Yankees put runners on the corners with
one out in the fourth, but third baseman Mark Teahen made a diving
stop of John Flaherty's smash and started a double play.

Game notes
OF Gary Sheffield had the appeal of his two-game suspension
for throwing his helmet during a game against the Mets on June 26
heard Friday by MLB executive vice president John McHale Jr. With
the troubles of his uncle, Dwight Gooden, weighing on his mind,
Sheffield doesn't want to sit out, because playing helps take his
mind off things. "This is my safety net," he said. "This is what
I know." ... RHP Wood was the only starter not to lose during
Kansas City's losing streak. He had no-decisions in two starts
before the victory over Oakland.