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Irabu, Yankees Streak Past Expos


Even another injury to a key player could not stop the New York Yankees.

Despite losing center fielder Bernie Williams to a knee problem, the Yankees won their season-high ninth straight game, 6-2 Wednesday night over the Montreal Expos.

Williams hurt his right knee sliding awkwardly into third base in the sixth inning. He played in the field in the bottom of the sixth, then left the game.

Yankees manager Joe Torre said Williams would likely be sent back to New York on Thursday for further examination.

"We won't really know until we get home," Torre said. "He may have sprained his knee a little bit. ... The knee seems to be stable, so hopefully it's no more than that, but we don't know how long that will keep him out."

Earlier this month, the Yankees put shortstop Derek Jeter on the disabled list because of trouble in his rib cage.

Hideki Irabu pitched six strong innings and Tino Martinez homered and drove in three runs as the Yankees improved their record to a major league-best 46-13. Montreal lost its third in a row.

Paul O'Neill doubled twice and singled, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 17 games.

"Injuries are mounting up now, so we've just got to keep giving everything we've got and continue to win," O'Neill said. "The big story tonight is Bernie spraining his knee. Guys like Bernie and Jeter are a big part of our lineup but that's part of the game. It will test the rest of us to pick it up."

Tim Raines, playing his first game in Montreal since leaving the Expos after the 1990 season, stole the 800th base of his career. He joined Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock and Ty Cobb as the only players to reach the mark.

"I never thought I'd be standing here with 800 stolen bases but my career started here in 1979 and stolen bases is what they wanted me to do," Raines said. "I've always felt that I could run but I wanted people to remember me as a guy who could hit as well."

"I feel really good about my career, the way it has transpired. I still remember the years here so it was great to do it here."

Irabu (6-1) leads the majors with a 1.59 ERA. He also became the first Yankees pitcher to get a hit in a regular-season game since Larry Gowell on Oct. 4, 1972.

"I was surprised," Irabu said through an interpreter. "The bat just kind of hit it. It was the first hit I remember since high school when I used an aluminum bat. I hit some home runs back then, but today I was just lucky."

Irabu allowed two runs and five hits while striking out five. He left after a 36-minute rain delay in the seventh, and Jeff Nelson and Mike Stanton finished with scoreless relief.

The roof at Olympic Stadium was removed in May and will remain off for the rest of the season.

Martinez hit a two-run homer in thfirst off Dustin Hermanson (4-5) and added a seventh-inning sacrifice fly as the Yankees recorded their 45th win in their last 54 games.

"They're a great hitting ball team and I think everyone around here knows that," Hermanson said. "I challenged them as much as I could. It was an up and down night. I felt great, I really felt strong. Those guys are tough, though. It's a good team."

Rondell White hit a leadoff homer against Irabu in the seventh, just prior to plate umpire Terry Tata's decision to cover the field with the Yankees ahead 6-2.

New York scored a pair of unearned runs in the first. Second baseman Jose Vidro misplayed Luis Sojo's one-out grounder for an error and Martinez followed one out later with his ninth homer of the season.

Montreal drew within 2-1 in the third on Vidro's RBI double. Mike Mordecai singled to lead off the inning, was sacrificed to second by Hermanson and came home to score on Vidro's double.

The Yankees added a pair in the fourth on Jorge Posada's RBI single and a throwing error by shortstop Mark Grudzielanek. Irabu, who singled in the second, added a sacrifice bunt that Grudzielanek threw away.

Notes

  • The crowd of 14,335 greeted Raines with a standing ovation when he led off the second. Raines was given another standing ovation in the eighth to acknowledge his 800th career stolen base. Raines -- who was traded to the Chicago White Sox following the 1990 season -- played in the All-Star Game in seven of his first 10 full seasons (1981-90) with Montreal.
  • White made a nice running catch on pinch-hitter Chad Curtis' liner to center in the seventh.

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