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Royal Crown: Bombers Oust K.C.


Three runs down in the sixth? No problem.
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  • The Yankees already overcame a bigger and later deficit -- within the last week.

    Bernie Williams capped a sixth-inning comeback with a game-tying sacrifice fly, then singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth as the Yankees beat Kansas City 5-4 Sunday, completing a four-game wipeout of the Royals.

    "The good restaurants don't open until 4, anyway," Derek Jeter joked. "We might as well stay here and win."

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    An 84-29 record isn't causing any letup in the New York dugout. Players don't talk about chasing the 1906 Chicago Cubs' record of 116 wins. They dismantle opponents piece by piece -- when they don't club them.

    "We don't allow one guy to hit 50 homers," said Jeter, who set up the winning run by stealing second and going straight to third as Scott Service's pitch rolled to the backstop. "We hit and run; we run the bases."

    Hard to believe, but it was the Yankees' 40th come-from-behind victory this season, their seventh when trailing by three or more runs. It only seems like they pound everyone into submission.

    "You wait for something magical to happen, and when it happens, it doesn't surprise you," manager Joe Torre said.

    New York, which got its 17th sweep in 42 series this year, outscored the Royals 41-9, completing a week in which the Yankees won seven of eight, outscoring Oakland and Kansas City by a combined 76-22.

    Coming in, the Royals had won six of seven.

    "When you come into this ballpark to play te New York Yankees, that plate is not very big," Kansas City manager Tony Muser said. "All of our pitchers, all of them, were intimidated. They didn't want to throw the ball down the middle of the plate no matter what the situation."

    And while Yankees starter Andy Pettitte was shaky after missing a start because of a strained left shoulder muscle, Ramiro Mendoza (8-2) followed with 2 1-3 hitless innings. That was the key.

    "He's unfazed," David Cone said. "That's kind of the way he pitches, too. He's so calm and cool when he pitches."

    Mendoza, a starter early in the year, has become a central part of the bullpen, putting himself in position to be an important factor during the postseason.

    "He wasn't happy mentally when we did it because he was successful as a starter," Torre said. "It wasn't a punishment. We had too many starters at this point in time and we felt he was best equipped to go down there."

    Mariano Rivera followed Mendoza with a perfect ninth for his 30th save in 38 chances, sending Kansas City to its 10th straight loss against the Yankees.

    Scott Brosius' 12th homer had put New York ahead in the third. Kansas City got RBI singles from Dean Palmer, Jeff King and Hal Morris in the fourth and Jose Offerman added a sacrifice fly in the fifth.

    New York tied it in the sixth on Paul O'Neill's two-run double off Hipolito Pichardo and Williams' sacrifice fly off Matt Whisenant, a drive caught by Johnny Damon at the top of the right-field wall.

    Service (4-3) then helped the Yankees with control problems. Chuck Knoblauch walked leading off the eighth but was caught stealing when Jeter froze at an outside pitch on a hit-and-run. Jeter walked, stole second and continued on as the ball went to the screen. One batter later, he scored on Williams' hit.

    "When you throw balls to the backstop, when you don't pick up balls in the outfield, when you don't get your bunts down," Muser said, "you're going to get beat against the New York Yankees."

    Notes

  • The Yankees have led in 38 consecutive games since June 28 against the Mets.
  • New York has two four-game sweeps, seven three-game sweeps and six two-game sweeps, and also won two series shortened to one game.
  • The Yankees are 55 games over .500 for the first time since they finished the 1961 season at 109-53. They are 42-8 at home and play 31 of their final 49 games at Yankee Stadium.
  • Helped by a Beanie Baby promotion, the game drew 55,911, the largest crowd at Yankee Stadium since opening day and the 10th-highest for a regular-season game since the remodeled ballpark opened in 1976. On the previous Beanie Baby Day at Yankees Stadium, David Wells pitched a perfect game against Minnesota on May 17.
  • Royals third baseman Scott Leius left in the fourth because of a tight left hamstring.

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