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Yankees extend homer streak in win over Orioles

Sep 27, 2006 - 2:27 AM BRONX, New York (Ticker) -- The New York Yankees have not relied on the home run as much this season. But they have still managed to continue an impressive streak.

Bobby Abreu hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning as the Yankees held on for a 5-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

New York (95-62) remains tied with Detroit for the best record in the American League.

The shot by Abreu allowed the Yankees to reach 200 homers for the seventh consecutive season, a feat only accomplished by the Yankees and Chicago White Sox.

"Obviously, we're going to be like a lot of the other clubs in the postseason. We're going rely on our pitching a good deal because you certainly don't want to get into a slugging match with anybody," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "But I think we have the capability to score some runs for our pitching as long as we sort of keep control of the game."

In each of the previous four seasons, the Yankees have totaled well over 200 home runs, adding sluggers such as Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield. The team hit 229 last season and has averaged 231 since 2001.

But injuries to Matsui and Sheffield this season have led the Yankees to pile up statistics in other categories. They have totaled 315 doubles, their most since recording 325 in 1997.

"We can't really rely on home runs," New York captain Derek Jeter said. "I think we've played a lot of small ball this season. Home runs happen, we've got a lot of guys that are capable of hitting some home runs.

"But we've been pretty good at moving guys over, hit-and-run and doing the little things. And that's what you have to do, especially in the playoffs."

Following a single by Derek Jeter in the fifth, Abreu hit a 1-2 pitch from Rodrigo Lopez (9-18) off the facing of the upper deck in right field.

"It was a fastball inside," Abreu said. "I had a good reaction on that."

Abreu's sixth home run with the Yankees and second in as many nights gave New York a 4-2 lead. Before Abreu's shot, Robinson Cano hit his 14th blast in the fourth, tying the game at 2-2.

"He's such a great addition to this ballclub," Torre said of Abreu. "Of course, Robby (Cano), he's been doing this the whole time to left-center field. We have a lot of weapons, we have a lot of things we can do."

But while the Yankees used the home run to win, Cory Lidle (4-3) struggled to keep the ball in Yankee Stadium. In 6 2/3 innings, he allowed solo home runs to Ramon Hernandez, Jay Gibbons and Corey Patterson among his six hits.

Lidle, who missed his last start with tendinitis in his right index finger, was lifted after allowing a base hit to Kevin Millar. He struck out five, walked one and threw 60 of 87 pitches for strikes.

"Early on you could see it right away," Torre said. "He looked like he was pretty much throwing the ball where he wanted to."

"I felt more confident," said Lidle, who had not pitched since September 13. "The ball was moving in the zone early in the count and then my velocity was up two or three miles per hour. It (the time off) made it a lot easier. I took some time off for my finger but it helped my whole body."

Lidle's quality outing was an encouraging sign, coming one night after lefthander Randy Johnson came down with back spasms, scratching him from Thursday's scheduled start and likely pushing his playoff start back to Game Three of the division series.

Hernandez homered with one out in the second for a 1-0 lead. Gibbons connected with one out in the fourth to knot the game at 1-1 and Patterson hit a two-out blast in the seventh to cut the deficit to 4-3.

Lefthanded specialist Mike Myers recorded the final out of the seventh, getting pinch hitter Fernando Tatis on a popup to Cano at second.

New York added a run in the seventh off LaTroy Hawkins on Sheffield's RBI single. That turned into a big run when Yankees relievers Brian Bruney and Scott Proctor struggled in the final two innings.

Bruney allowed a two-out walk to Nick Markakis and a single to Miguel Tejada in the eighth, but he retired Gibbons on a line drive to third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

In the ninth, Proctor allowed three hits, including Jeff Fiorentino's one-out RBI base hit. But he retired Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora on a pair of outfield flyouts for his first career save.

"It's good practice," Torre said. "He threw strikes. He made some pitches and they hit some balls. There's not much you can do with that."

Baltimore's Hayden Penn lasted just three-plus innings and allowed two runs and four hits. He departed after yielding a walk to Matsui due to a lower back strain.

"It wouldn't go away," Penn said. "It wouldn't allow me to throw a pitch."

"His back stiffened up on him," Baltimore manager Perlozzo said. "He told me just before he went out for the fourth. When the first guy (Cano) hit the home run, we decided after the next batter to go out and get him."

Perlozzo was ejected in the sixth by first base umpire Bob Davidson for arguing that Tejada had checked his swing on an inside pitch.

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