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Williams Gives Yanks 90th Win


On a day the New York Yankees honored Babe Ruth, Bernie Williams found a perfect way to pay tribute.

Williams hit a solo home run into the upper deck with one out in the ninth inning Sunday and the Yankees won their 90th game, beating the Texas Rangers 6-5.

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  • The afternoon at "The House That Ruth Built" began with a remembrance on the 50th anniversary of the Bambino's death. It finished with Williams hitting the Yankees' first game-ending homer of the season.

    "It's a good way to end a game and a great tribute to his memory," Williams said.

    At 90-30, the Yankees joined the 1944 St. Louis Cardinals as the only teams in major-league history to reach that win total in their first 120 games.

    "Yes, it does stagger me when you think of 90 wins by the middle of August," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "It's not that easy to do."

    The Yankees increased their lead to 191/2 games over Boston, their largest margin since Sept. 12, 1941, when they also were 191/2 games ahead of the Red Sox. New York finished 10-1 on its homestand and improved to 48-9 at Yankee Stadium.

    New York also prevented Texas -- which romped 16-5 a day earlier -- from matching Boston as the only clubs to win two straight games at the Bronx this season.

    Williams' fourth hit came off Xavier Hernandez (5-2), spoiling the reliever's 33rd birthday. In a season full of victories, Williams came up with yet another way for the Yankees to win.

    "Now, everything is happening very fast," he said. "There are so many great hitters in this lneup, I wasn't trying to do too much."

    Darryl Strawberry and Derek Jeter also homered for the Yankees. Roberto Kelly hit two homers for Texas and Royce Clayton also connected.

    After Mariano Rivera (2-0) retired Will Clark on a bases-loaded grounder to end the top of the ninth, Williams thrilled a crowd of 50,304 with a drive to right field for his 18th home run.

    Williams hit an 0-1 fastball for the Yankees' first game-ending homer since Tino Martinez did it in the 10th inning last Sept. 21 against Toronto.

    "I left the pitch down. I wanted to throw it up, but I didn't and he whacked it," Hernandez said. "Happy birthday, here's your losing gift."

    Kelly, who played for the Yankees from 1987-92, hit a two-run drive in the third and led off the fifth with his 10th home run. He has four multihomer games in his career, two this season.

    New York made it 5-5 in the fifth, scoring a run on Martinez's double-play grounder.

    The score was still tied in the seventh when Martinez grounded into an inning-ending double play with runners at the corners. Martinez hit into a total of three double plays, although bad baserunning by Paul O'Neill on a fly ball caused one of them.

    Jeter homered into the upper-deck in right field, a rare drive for a right-handed hitter, for a 2-0 lead in the first off Esteban Loaiza.

    Strawberry hit his team-leading 22nd home run -- and 10th in only 45 at-bats -- for a 3-0 lead in the third.

    Martinez had an RBI single in the third for a 4-2 lead.

    Texas tied it in the fourth against David Wells. Ivan Rodriguez doubled, stole third and continued home on catcher Jorge Posada's throwing error, and then Clayton hit his first AL home run.

    Wells, a big Ruth admirer who once pitched an inning wearing one of Babe's actual hats, was glad his team won on this day.

    "It's a big deal for baseball fans in general, especially for me," he said. "He's always going to be my idol in baseball."

    Notes

  • Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch did not play. He fouled a ball off his left calf Saturday and is day-to-day. Rookie Homer Bush replaced him and got two hits. Bush also hit third-base coach Willie Randolph with a foul liner.
  • Rodriguez is 6-for-6 on steal attempts.
  • Juan Gonzalez leads the AL with 119 RBIs, but has not driven in a run in five games.
  • Wells remained 10-0 at home this year. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner recently gave the team watches to commemorate Wells' perfect game against Minnesota in May.
  • The four-game series drew 203,803.
  • The Yankees have held a lead in all but one of their home games this year.

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