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Streaking Jeter carries shorthanded Yanks past O's

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Derek Jeter keeps hitting, and the New York
Yankees continue to win.

It's no coincidence.

Jeter extended his career-high hitting streak to 20 games, going
2-for-4 with a homer and four RBI to lead New York over the
Baltimore Orioles 9-4 Sunday.

Jeter hit a double in the first inning and gave the Yankees a
5-0 lead with a two-run homer in the third. He added a run-scoring
grounder in the fourth and a sacrifice fly in the sixth before
finishing with a ninth-inning groundout.

His 20-game hitting streak is the longest by a Yankee since
Bernie Williams' 21-game run in August 1993. New York is 12-8 since
Jeter last went hitless.

"He's just a flat-out good player," Williams said.

Yankees leadoff hitter Johnny Damon has scored 106 runs this
season, in part because he's batting ahead of Jeter in the lineup.
Jeter batted third on Sunday, but he's usually in the 2-hole.

"We're putting together a nice supporting cast around him and
it shows. He could very well be the MVP," Damon said. "He's the
guy you want coming up in the clutch. I always hope I'm on base for
him."

Damon was on third base in the fourth inning when Jeter hit a
grounder to the right side that easily produced another run and
moved Melky Cabrera to third.

"I like when he's hitting in key situations," Yankees manager
Joe Torre said. "He seems to know what to do, even something as
simple as a groundball to second with nobody out to get a runner in
and a runner over. He just never lets his guard down."

Jaret Wright (10-7) allowed three runs and three hits in 6 1-3
innings to earn his first win since Aug. 12. He struck out two,
walked two and did not permit a runner past first base until Ramon
Hernandez homered in the fifth.

"I tried to stay on the attack, tried to get ahead," Wright
said. "Before that I was getting in trouble being behind in the
count."

The victory boosted New York (85-56) past Detroit for the best
record in the AL.

"This is our high-water mark right now, 29 games over," Torre
said. "You don't worry about who you're behind or who you're
ahead, if you can get the right number of games over .500 you're
going to be there."

The Orioles will not, and now it's official. Baltimore fell a
season-high 18 games under .500 (62-80) and were officially
eliminated from playoff contention with Minnesota's 12-1 win over
Detroit.

Hernandez went 3-for-4 with two homers and four RBI, his third
multihomer game of the season and the sixth of his career. But
Baltimore managed only three other hits in losing for the sixth
time in seven games.

Former Oriole Sal Fasano and Nick Green homered for New York. It
was Fasano's first home run with the Yankees since joining the team
in a July 26 trade with Philadelphia.

All three homers came off Baltimore rookie Hayden Penn (0-2),
who yielded seven runs, nine hits and two walks in three-plus
innings. Coming off a 2006 debut in which the right-hander gave up
eight runs and retired only two batters against Oakland, Penn
lowered his ERA from 108.00 to 36.82.

But there were few positives in his second straight poor
performance.

"Right now I'm searching for answers. I just didn't get it
done," he said.

Penn got through the first inning this time, but New York struck
for three runs in the second. Robinson Cano hit a leadoff double
and Aaron Guiel walked before Fasano homered on a 3-2 pitch.

Jeter hit his 13th homer in the third after Cabrera doubled.
Green led off the fourth with his second home run, and Penn
departed immediately before Jeter drove in Damon with a grounder to
second for a 7-0 lead.

After Hernandez ruined Wright's shutout bid, a sacrifice fly by
Jeter and Bobby Abreu's RBI single put the Yankees up 9-1 in the
sixth.

Wright was pulled after issuing two walks in the seventh. Ron
Villone retired David Newhan before Hernandez hit his 18th homer,
an opposite-field shot to left.

Game notes
New York played a second straight game without 1B Jason
Giambi (hand injury) and 3B Alex Rodriguez (ill). ... Baltimore DH
Jay Gibbons was a late scratch because of back spasms. ... The
Yankees didn't go down in order until the seventh. ... Fasano's
three RBI were one more than he had in his first 18 games with the
Yankees.