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Neagle's Present To Torre A Gem


Denny Neagle made quite a first impression at a most opportune time for the New York Yankees.

Pitching in pinstripes for the first time, Neagle took a shutout into the eighth inning as the Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies 3-1 on Tuesday night.

"You always want to get that first win under your belt," Neagle said. "You want to let the guys know this why they got you."

David Justice hit a solo homer and Bernie Williams added a two-run triple off Curt Schilling (5-6) for New York, which has won 10 of 14.

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  • Schilling finished with a four-hitter, but it was Neagle's night.

    His only contributions in his first four days in New York were making kooky sounds of train whistles and barking dogs. But when he took the mound Tuesday wearing Roger Clemens' old No. 12, Neagle (1-0) showed why the Yankees gave up four prospects to acquire him from Cincinnati.

    "What can you say?" owner George Steinbrenner said. "He was magnificent, he hadn't pitched in 11 days. Tremendous."

    Neagle pitched ahead in the count and let the Phillies hit flyballs to all parts of spacious Yankee Stadium. He got 16 of 24 outs in the air, and the few that were hit hard were right at fielders until Ron Gant hit a solo homer with two outs in the eighth.

    "People think I'm a groundball pitcher because of my changeup, but my best pitch is the fastball up," Neagle said. "With the deep center field and Bernie Williams out there to go get them, this is suited to my style of pitching."

    Neagle struck out Bobby Abreu to end the eighth and walked off the field triumphantly to chants of "Denny! Denny!"

    "I felt the most incredible rush leaving the bullpen to go to the dugout before the game," he said. "The crowd was behind me all game."

    With his parents in the stands watching, Neagle couldn't have scripted a better Yankees debut. The left-hander, who was 8-2 for the Reds, allowed one run and five hits in eight innings. He struck out three and walked two.

    He was at his toughest when the Phillies put runners on base, holding them to one hit in 12 at-bats in those situations.

    "I thought he was terrific," Phillies manager Terry Francona said. "His velocity was better than we had ever seen. He might have been a little juiced tonight."

    Neagle's performance came at a time when questions surround the Yankees as pitching staff. Orlando Hernandez was placed on the disabled list before Tuesday's game and David Cone lost his career-high sixth consecutive decision on Monday.

    Neagle overshadowed those problems for at least one night and gave manager Joe Torre the perfect 60th birthday present.

    "When you add a quality pitcher to the club and have him come in and do the job, especially with El Duque going down, was a big lift for us," Torre said.

    Schilling, also coveted by the Yankees before they traded for Neagle, was even more dominating early. He allowed only one hit in the first four innings before running into trouble from an old nemesis in the fifth.

    Justice, who entered the game 9-for-25 with three homers off Schilling, led off with a line drive that barely cleared the right-field fence for his 24th homer. As Justice rounded the bases, Schilling looked at the fence in astonishment, apparently surprised the ball was high enough to be a home run.

    The Yankees added two insurance runs in the sixth. Chuck Knoblauch walked with one out, went to second on Derek Jeter's single and both runners advanced on a groundout. Williams, who entered the game third in the AL with 85 RBIs, lined a 2-0 pitch into the left-center field gap for a two-run triple.

    "No question that took a huge amount of pressure off," Torre said. 'Now you can throw strikes and still allow a Ron Gant homer without it hurting you."

    Schilling pitched his third complete game of the season. He struck out five and walked three.

    "He made the pitches he had to make tonight and I didn't," Schilling said. "That's why we lost."

    Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his 22nd save.

    Notes

  • Neagle beat Philadelphia 7-0 on May 2. He allowed one hit in six innings.
  • Phillies C Mike Lieberthal and SS Desi Relaford, who both left Monday's game with injuries, did not start. Lieberthal will miss 3-4 games with a sprained left ankle and Relaford is day-to-day with inflammation in his right shoulder.
  • The Phillies are 1-7 at Yankee Stadium.
  • Philadelphia finished interleague play 9-9; the Yankees are 11-6 with a possible makeup game against Florida left.

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