<
>

Yankees come undone, so does winning streak

NEW YORK (AP) -- Jaret Wright must feel as though there's a
bull's-eye on his back -- not to mention his neck, chest and elbow.

Bruised by a line drive again, Wright was ineffective and the
Toronto Blue Jays ended New York's five-game winning streak
Saturday with a 7-4 victory over the Yankees.

"A bat, two balls -- I don't know," Wright said. "When it
keeps happening, it's definitely frustrating."

Hideki Matsui and Robinson Cano made costly errors for the
Yankees, who lost for only the second time in 13 games. Chasing
their eighth consecutive division title, they fell into a tie for
the AL East lead with Boston, which won 4-3 at Baltimore, and
dropped 1½ games behind Cleveland in the wild-card race.

"The focus is always on this division. We can disrupt some
things," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, whose team begins a
four-game series at Fenway Park on Monday.

Shea Hillenbrand and Eric Hinske each drove in two runs for
Toronto. Wright was chased with none out in the second inning, his
shortest start since August 2004 with Atlanta.

Staked to a comfortable lead, Scott Downs (4-3) held New York in
check for 5 2-3 innings. Alex Rodriguez homered and drove in three
runs for the Yankees.

Miguel Batista struck out Jason Giambi with the bases loaded to
end the eighth, bringing groans from a crowd of 53,911 that pushed
the Yankees over the 4 million mark in home attendance.

Batista then fanned all three batters in the ninth for his 30th
save in 38 chances.

"We have a chance to play spoilers right now. It's fun to play
in an atmosphere like this," Downs said.

Wright (5-4) gave up singles to his first three batters, loading
the bases and prompting a visit from pitching coach Mel
Stottlemyre.

Hillenbrand hit a dribbler toward third for an infield single,
driving in the first run. Hinske lofted a sacrifice fly to left,
and Matsui dropped the ball for an error that allowed another run
to score.

Gregg Zaun then smacked a liner right back at Wright, knocking
the pitcher off his feet. But he was lucky this time -- the ball hit
him on the right side of his chest, leaving Wright with nothing
more serious than yet another bruise.

It was the third time this month that he was literally hit hard
on the mound. He was knocked out of a start in Seattle on Sept. 1
when Raul Ibanez's liner struck him near the neck. And he left his
previous outing Sunday in Toronto after he was hit in the right
elbow by a broken bat.

"Three times now, what can you do?" Wright said. "It got me
square in the chest. It's sore and tight. It feels like the other
ones, I guess."

He threw to first from his knees for the first out of the game,
holding the runners at second and third. Visibly jarred, Wright
looked down and shook his head as teammates gathered around.

"That's the first thing I thought was, Oh my God!" manager Joe
Torre said. "It's just crazy, it really is."

With Torre and a trainer looking on, Wright threw a few warmup
pitches, took a deep breath and went back to work.

"I've never seen that before," teammate Derek Jeter said.
"Sometimes they say things happen in threes, hopefully that's the
end of it."

On Friday night, Torre joked about Wright's recent misfortune
and what he expected from this outing.

"I hope that he can catch the ball before it hits him," the
manager said.

Little did he know that would be a real concern again.

Wright remained in the game this time, but the results never
improved. Reed Johnson's sacrifice fly made it 4-0, and the
right-hander gave up two singles and a walk before he was pulled
for Aaron Small with the bases loaded in the second.

X-rays showed Wright is fine, and he said the line drive didn't
affect the way he threw.

"I had a hard time getting the ball down," he said. "I was
bad."

After Vernon Wells popped out, Hillenbrand hit a hard, one-hop
smash to second that Cano couldn't handle. The ball ricocheted into
right field, allowing two runs to score, and Cano was charged with
an extremely tough error.

"It was a hard line drive," Cano said. "Came up too quick."

Hillenbrand was credited with one RBI, and Hinske added another
sacrifice fly.

Rodriguez's two-run shot in the first gave him 46 homers, tying
Joe DiMaggio (1937) for the most by a right-handed hitter in
Yankees history.

Rodriguez had an RBI single in the second, cutting it to 7-3,
and Jeter drove in a run with an infield single in the sixth.

Wright allowed seven runs -- three earned -- and six hits. Small,
who is 9-0, kept New York in the game with 6 2-3 shutout innings
and left to a standing ovation -- perhaps earning himself another
start.

"We'll have to make that decision. It's not about promotions or
demotions," Torre said. "Right now there is no rotation. We're
just trying to win as many games as possible."

Game notes
The Yankees became the third major league franchise to draw
4 million fans in a season, joining Toronto (1992 and '93) and
Colorado (1993). ... Giambi was back in the lineup at 1B after
missing two games with a tight back. ... Jeter was hit by a pitch
his first two times up.