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Johnson goes for 18th win as Yankees face Devil Rays

Sep 23, 2006 - 3:28 PM NY Yankees (93-60) at Tampa Bay (58-95) 7:15 pm EDT

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Ticker) -- Although he has been more inconsistent this year, Randy Johnson has a chance to surpass his win total from last season.

Johnson takes the mound in search of his 18th victory Saturday as the New York Yankees continue a four-game series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

In his first campaign in pinstripes, Johnson was 17-8 with a 3.79 ERA as he won his final five decisions. This season, Johnson's earned run average has been over four all season but, thanks to tremendous run support, he is 6-1 in his last eight starts.

Johnson (17-10, 4.93 ERA) will be hoping that this start will not be one to forget. In his last outing vs. Tampa Bay on July 29, he was roughed up for nine runs and six hits in just 3 1/3 innings of a 19-6 loss.

The Yankees are 3-1 on their final road trip of the season. They began this series with Friday's 4-1 victory as Chien-Ming Wang threw seven strong innings to pick up his 18th victory.

The win also marked the return of Gary Sheffield and Mariano Rivera. Sheffield returned from a wrist injury to play first base while Rivera pitched for the first time since August 31, notching his 34th save.

The Devil Rays have dropped 12 of their last 15 games to the Yankees and 10 of 11 overall. They managed just a home run from Rocco Baldelli in Friday's loss and will try to provide more offense for J.P. Howell (0-3, 6.53), who is making his seventh start of the season.

Howell last pitched a week ago in Toronto. In a 6-1 loss, he gave up four runs and nine hits in five innings.






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