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Yanks hang on vs. Royals after five-run first inning

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Yankees seemed poised for a perfect
day.

After jumping out to a five-run lead in the first inning against
the team with the worst record in the majors, the Yankees were
cruising in front of a sellout Yankee Stadium crowd enjoying the
beautiful spring weather.

And then?

"It was good to score five runs but we stopped," Johnny Damon
said. "They retired a bunch of hitters in a row and we couldn't
add on to the scoreboard. So it ended up being a close game."

Indeed.

Damon hit a leadoff home run to spark the five-run first, but
the Kansas City bullpen retired 15 straight New York batters to end
the game, and the Yankees needed to hold off the Royals to win 6-5
Sunday.

The Yankees seemed to have their fourth victory in five games
wrapped up when they took a 6-0 lead in the second inning. But the
Royals came steadily back by scoring one run in each of the fourth,
fifth and sixth innings and two in the seventh.

"Early in the year we would have just caved in," Kansas City
first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz said. "It's tough to battle out of
a 6-0 hole but we tried."

In the end, however, the Royals lost for the 15th time in 16
games and saw their road record drop to 3-22. That equals the worst
road start after 25 games in baseball history, according to the
Elias Sports Bureau.

Reggie Sanders doubled in Mientkiewicz to make it 6-4 in the
seventh and chase New York reliever Scott Proctor. Two batters
later, Emil Brown drove in Sanders with a single that made it 6-5.

Kyle Farnsworth got the last out of the inning to end the threat
and then retired the side in the eighth. Mariano Rivera pitched a
perfect ninth for his 11th save in 12 chances, tying Hall of Famer
Dennis Eckersley for fourth on the all-time list with 390 saves.

"We got to Mo," New York manager Joe Torre said. "I think the
stabilizer was Farnsworth having the eighth inning he had."

The Yankees wasted no time getting to Royals starter Runelvys
Hernandez (1-4). Damon drove a 2-1 pitch into the right-field
stands to put the Yankees up 1-0. It was Damon's sixth homer of the
season, and his second leading off. Derek Jeter and Gary Sheffield
followed with singles and Jason Giambi made it 2-0 with a double to
right.

Alex Rodriguez -- coming off a two-homer, three-RBI performance
in Saturday's 15-4 victory -- followed with a bloop single over
first base that scored Sheffield and Giambi.

Three batters later, Hernandez was gone after getting just two
outs and the Yankees were seemingly in control. But not for long.

"Just because you're supposed to win games, doesn't mean you're
going to win them," Rodriguez said. "These guys are dangerous.
When you come in here with nothing to lose, look out."

After Robinson Cano drove in Jeter with a sacrifice fly in the
second, the Yankees were done scoring. They didn't even have a hit
after Damon singled in the third.

Royals relievers Bobby Keppel, Andrew Sisco, Joel Peralta and
Elmer Dessens combined to give up just four hits and one run in 7
1-3 innings.

New York starter Jaret Wright (3-3), who tweaked his groin in a
win Tuesday over Boston, was solid through five innings. He left
after Tony Graffanino doubled to put runners on second and third
with one out in the sixth.

Wright gave up three runs on nine hits in 5 1-3 innings, and
said his groin felt fine.

"I think (my) location was a little off all day, but I didn't
really get tired and I guess that's good," he said. "I didn't
have my good stuff, but it feels good to win those games."

Game notes
New York 1B Jason Giambi left the game in the seventh
inning because of a cramp in his back. Torre said he doesn't expect
him to miss tomorrow's game against Detroit. ... In the last 11
games, Kansas City starters are 1-8 with an 8.94 ERA. ... The
Royals missed an opportunity to win their first road series of the
season. They haven't won a series on the road since Aug. 19-21,
2005 against Oakland. ... There was an announced crowd of 54,372,
the sixth sellout this season at Yankee Stadium. ... New York LF
Melky Cabrera, who has had his adventures on defense, was a busy
man. He had six putouts, one assist, and also slipped near the
warning track on two separate occasions when fielding base hits.