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Guiel, Yankees top Devil Rays in Sheffield's return

Sep 23, 2006 - 1:54 AM ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Ticker) -- With Gary Sheffield making his debut at first base, it was Aaron Guiel who provided the power in right field.

Guiel belted a go-ahead two-run homer and Robinson Cano hit his 12th blast as the New York Yankees posted a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Sidelined since May 29 with an injured right wrist, Sheffield went 0-for-3 in his return to the lineup. He suffered the injury in a collision with Toronto's Shea Hillenbrand, shelving the New York slugger for 101 games.

The 37-year-old Sheffield - an All-Star right fielder - made his first career start at first base, scooping two balls out of the dirt in an impressive defensive debut. With the acquisition of Bobby Abreu at the July 31 trade deadline, Sheffield has been working out at first under the tutelage of New York's hitting coach and nine-time Gold Glove first baseman Don Mattingly.

"I was nervous at first," Sheffield said. "After that first catch, I got the butterflies out of my system."

"He had a lot better at-bats that I anticipated," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "At first base, it looked like he had been there a lot longer than just working out this past week."

However, with Abreu getting the night off, Guiel started and hit his seventh homer, a two-run blast off James Shields (6-8), to snap a 1-1 tie in the seventh. After a double by Miguel Cairo, Melky Cabrera smacked an opposite-field double to cap a three-run inning.

"Anyway I can contribute, I want to," Guiel said. "On this team you have to make the most of your chances and earn your time."

Cano tied the game in the fourth with a solo homer to right-center field.

Chien-Ming Wang (18-6) tied Minnesota's Johan Santana for the major league lead in wins, allowing one run and six hits in seven strong innings.

"He really doesn't push the envelope pitch count-wise," Torre said. "I think that is a big reason why he's been able to maintain his stuff."

Scott Proctor pitched the eighth and Mariano Rivera struck out the side in the ninth for his 34th save. Rivera had been sidelined since August 31 against Detroit with a muscle strain near his elbow.

"At first I was a little rusty, but I worked out of quickly," Rivera said. "I felt a lot better with each pitch. I feel real good. Everything is on schedule."

"He's pretty well tested as far as his health," Torre said. "I really wasn't concerned about velocity with him."

Shields yielded four runs and eight hits in seven innings.

Rocco Baldelli hit his 14th homer, and seventh this month, for Tampa Bay (58-95), which has the majors' worst record.

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