David Wells didn't have to be perfect to beat Minnesota this time. Not the way the Yankees are playing.
Wells became only the second pitcher this century to shut out a team in his first start against them after a perfect game, beating the Twins 4-0 with a four-hitter Tuesday night as New York extended its winning streak to six.
Wells, who pitched the perfect game at Yankee Stadium on May 17, matched the feat accomplished by Philadelphia's Jim Bunning against the New York Mets in 1964.
Paul O'Neill homered and Jorge Posada drove in three runs as the Yankees (86-29) moved 57 games above .500 for the first time since 1939. New York has held leads in 40 consecutive games, tying the record set by the '32 Yankees.
And with the win, New York manager Joe Torre evened his managerial record at 1,168-1,168.
"Staying there," Torre said before the game, "that's what it's all about."
That shouldn't be a problem as the Yankees continue their race to history. With each win, New York gets closer to the 1906 Chicago Cubs' record of 116 victories in a season.
Wells (15-2) pitched his third shutout this season and upped his home record to 10-0. After Wells retired Otis Nixon on a grounder to second to start the game, Brent Gates doubled just inside the bag at third, ending a run of 28 straight Twins retired by Wells.
Wells, who hasn't allowed the Twins a run in 25 straight innings over three starts, has won 15 of 16 decisions since losing his first start of the season. The left-hander threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of 30 batters, including 17 in a row. He struck out four and walked none.
Tino Martinez, Jeter and Posada had three hits apiece for New York
O'Neill's 19th homer followed a one-out single by Derek Jeter and gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the first off Eric Milton (6-9), traded by New York to Minnesota as part of the Chuck Knoblauch deal.
The Yankees added three runs in the third on Jeter's RBI double, a run-scoring bloop from Martinez and Posada's run-scoring single.
Posada hit a two-run double in the fifth to make it 7-0.
Milton gave up five runs and nine hits in four innings.
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