Yankees finally pick up a win at Bank One
PHOENIX (AP) – Mariano Rivera insists there was nothing special about this one.
No demons to banish, he said, just another save.
The New York closer returned for the first time to the mound where he blew Game 7 of the 2001 World Series and methodically disposed of three Arizona batters to preserve a 4-2 Yankees' victory on Tuesday night.
"It's 2004," Rivera said, "and I'm still here."
So are the Yankees, still baseball's flagship, a team that packed Bank One Ballpark with its first sellout crowd since the season opener.
"We finally won one here," manager Joe Torre said, referring to his team's 0-4 record in Arizona in late October and early November 2001.
Miguel Cairo singled in two runs and Jose Contreras improved to 3-0 in his last four starts.
He hasn't lost since he was briefly sent to the minors to work on his command.
Two starts ago, he lasted just two-thirds of an inning but the Yankees rallied to win that one.
Torre thought this was a good step forward for the right-hander.
"Right now, unfortunately everything you're looking at is so magnified because of the problems he had early on, but I think he's passing with pretty good grades," Torre said.
Contreras (4-2) allowed two runs on five hits in 6 1-3 innings.
He struck out six, walked two and hit a batter.
He threw 120 pitches.
"He was effectively wild tonight," Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly said.
"It seemed like we couldn't come up with that one big knock against him."
Gabe White and Tom Gordon shut down Arizona until Rivera could take over.
Gary Sheffield, Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter each had three hits for the Yankees, who have won 11 of 13 – and 17 of 20 – to open a season-best 4-1/2-game lead over Boston in the AL East.
One of Sheffield's hits was a solo home run off Mike Koplove in the ninth.
Rivera said that since the team arrived in Arizona he had seen numerous television replays of that Game 7 loss, when the Yankees carried a 2-1 lead into the ninth but lost 3-2 on Luis Gonzalez's bloop RBI single.
"I've seen it over and over," Rivera joked.
"I don't think they want me to forget it."
But he said he long ago moved on.
Rivera earned his 27th save, most in the majors, and his ninth in June.
Rivera was unavailable for Sunday's game because of tightness in his back.
Andy Green hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer for his first major league hit for Arizona.
The Diamondbacks tied a club record by turning four double plays – in the first six innings.
Still, the Yankees stranded 12 baserunners.
After squandering several opportunities, New York scored two in the fifth inning to go up 3-0.
Alex Rodriguez grounded into his second double play of the night, but Arizona starter Brandon Webb (3-6) hit Jason Giambi with a pitch and Sheffield singled.
Hideki Matsui walked to load the bases, then Cairo lined a two-run single to right.
Arizona cut it to 3-2 in its half of the fifth.
Juan Brito's liner glanced off Rodriguez's glove at third base to shortstop Jeter, and the runner just beat the throw to first.
Green, in his second at-bat since being called up from Tucson on Thursday, hit Contreras' 2-0 pitch over the bullpen in left field to make it 3-2.\