ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Johnny Damon felt good enough to
play, and Joe Torre was looking for the right situation to get the
ailing Yankees star into the game.
Out of the starting lineup for the third straight day because of
a pulled muscle in his right side, Damon came off the bench to
score as a pinch runner for Jason Giambi and later hit a two-run
triple off Scott Kazmir to help New York beat the Tampa Bay Devil
Rays 5-1 on Saturday night.
"It worked out perfectly," Damon said. "The timing, running
for Jason, caught me off guard. But (Torre) knew exactly what he
was doing. I'm just happy everything worked out."
Chien-Ming Wang (9-4) pitched 8 1/3 solid innings, allowing six
hits, striking out two and walking two to help the Yankees win for
the fourth straight time since an embarrassing 19-1 loss at
Jonny Gomes' sacrifice fly off Kyle Farnsworth in the ninth
snapped Tampa Bay's scoreless innings streak at 19. Four Yankees
pitchers teamed for a 1-0 shutout Friday night, and the Devil Rays
hadn't scored since the seventh inning of a 12-5 loss to Boston on
Damon entered the game as a pinch runner after center fielder
Rocco Baldelli misplayed Giambi's fly ball for a two-base error. He
sprinted home, breaking a scoreless tie, when Jorge Posada singled
off Kazmir (10-6) to snap an 0-for-13 streak.
Damon remained in the game as the designated hitter and tripled
off the Devil Rays All-Star -- making it 3-0 -- after Melky Cabrera
doubled and Derek Jeter drew an intentional walk with one out in
"I knew he could play, but I just didn't want to throw him to
the wolves out there with the first guy he's going to face being a
tough left-hander," said Torre, who tied former Yankees manager
Casey Stengel for 10th on baseball's career list with 1,926
Kazmir, coming off a two-hit, complete-game shutout of Boston,
allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. The 22-year-old
left-hander struck out seven and walked four, two intentionally.
"Not too many people hit Kazmir well," Damon said. "He threw
me four straight curveballs after having me down 0-2. I was able to
stay on one. It worked out perfect."
Kazmir pitched the seventh despite some discomfort in the middle
finger on his left hand.
"It was a callus that was just getting a little soft," Kazmir
said. "It didn't affect me at all. It's fine."
The Yankees added two runs in the eighth when Cabrera and Jeter
had RBI singles off reliever Edwin Jackson.
Kazmir struck out 10 and pitched the first complete game of his
career against Boston last Monday. He limited the Red Sox to a
third-inning single by Alex Gonzalez and ninth-inning double by
Manny Ramirez, and was just as tough on the Yankees early.
He struck out Jeter and Giambi after giving up an infield hit to
Kevin Thompson and a ground ball single to Cabrera with one out in the
third. Kazmir gave up another infield hit to Thompson in the fifth,
but worked out of a jam after Thompson stole second by getting
Cabrera and Jeter to ground out.
But Wang was sharp, too, holding Tampa Bay to singles by
Baldelli, Huff and Julio Lugo through five innings. The Devil Rays
were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position during Friday's loss
and failed to come up with the big hit again after Baldelli and
Huff reached base in the fourth with one out.
It was the same story in the sixth after Carl Crawford tripled
with one out. The speedy Tampa Bay star was easily thrown out at
the plate when Baldelli hit a high-hopper to Jeter at shortstop.
"It's amazing after how well we swung the bats against a good
Boston staff," manager Joe Maddon said of the Devil Rays' hitting
woes. Tampa Bay won three of four from the Red Sox before facing
"I thought we would at least be able to produce a couple of
runs, but you've got to tip your hat to them. They prepared well
for this series. They're playing very well. Their pitching has been
Damon was 1-for-12 against Kazmir before his triple. ...
Jeter has gone 177 at-bats without a home run, the second-longest
homerless streak within the same season in his career. He went 313
at-bats without a homer in 1997. ... Thompson started in right
field and went 2-for-3 after being recalled from Triple-A Columbus
earlier in the day. To make room on the roster, RHP T.J. Beam was
optioned to Columbus.