Yankees reduce magic number to fivePosted: Sunday September 15, 2002 5:21 PM
Updated: Monday September 16, 2002 2:43 AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Yankees helped decide one division race Sunday. Now, they're aiming to clinch their own title.
Alfonso Soriano, Jason Giambi and Bernie Williams homered and the Yankees cut their magic number to five, beating the Chicago White Sox 8-4 in a game called in the sixth inning after three rain delays.
Chicago's loss clinched the AL Central for Minnesota, which won 5-0 in Cleveland. The Yankees moved closer to winning the AL East, aided by Boston's loss to Baltimore.
"The Twins had a good year, played well. They played more consistently than anyone in our division, obviously," White Sox manager Jerry Manuel said.
"We've got a club that I would think is going to be in better position to compete next year," he said. "I look forward to it."
After being outscored 21-3 in losing the first two games of the series, the Yankees' spirits seemed brighter despite the damp conditions and a bad start -- Miguel Olivo hit a three-run homer in his first major league at-bat to give Chicago a 3-0 lead.
"You know that your ballclub is going to snap out of it. I'm just glad that we decided to do it today," New York manager Joe Torre said.
Yankees pitcher Orlando Hernandez, who punched teammate Jorge Posada in a clubhouse skirmish Saturday, clapped his hands when the catcher singled to key a four-run sixth inning. Moments later, Hernandez was the first player to give Posada a high-five when he scored.
Earlier, outfielders Raul Mondesi and Williams playfully huddled on the warning track under an umbrella a fan gave them while groundskeepers worked on the field.
"It helped a little," Mondesi said. "It was really wet."
Giambi and Williams hit consecutive home runs in the fourth that pulled the Yankees to 4-3. Soriano tied it in fifth with his 38th home run, and second in two days.
New York broke away in the sixth, scoring the go-ahead run on a balk by Mike Porzio (2-1). After a 33-minute rain delay, Nick Johnson hit a two-run single, then time was called again because of the wet weather. The game was called after a 38-minute wait.
Andy Pettitte (11-5) weathered the poor conditions. He slammed his glove on the bench and shouted when play halted because of rain in the third with the White Sox ahead.
"He looked like he was trying to find a dry spot on his uniform to wipe his hand," pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said. "At that time, it was very tough conditions."
But after a 45-minute wait, Pettitte returned and did not allow another hit in winning his third straight start.
Olivo became the 83rd player in major league history to homer in his first at-bat, and the second for the White Sox -- Carlos Lee did it on May 7, 1999. Olivo raised his right arm as he rounded first base when his opposite-field drive cleared the wall in right-center.
Olivo was the MVP of this year's Southern League championship series, leading Class AA Birmingham to the title. The catcher was in the locker room, drenched in champagne, after the clinching win Friday night when told he was headed to the big leagues.
"That's great for me, I was so proud," said Olivo, who traded a signed bat to get his souvenir ball.
Olivo said he wasn't concerned that an early rainout would wash away his homer from the record book.
"I didn't worry about that. I knew that I had done it, that I had gotten that hit," he said.
Notes: Soriano and Giambi have homered in the same game 13 times.
Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris did it 14 times in 1961, a Yankees
record for teammates. ... Marcus Thames of the Yankees was the last
major leaguer to homer in his first at-bat, doing it on June 10
against Arizona's Randy Johnson. ... The White Sox missed a chance
to make it to .500 for the first time since June 20.