Sun, Aug 08, 2004 - Page 24 News List

Matsui boosts NY Yankees

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL Hideki Matsui turned up the power at the plate, becoming the second player from Japan to hit two homers in a game in the majors


Hideki Matsui of the Yankees hits a three-run home run during the first inning against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium in New York, Friday. Matsui, who finished 3-for-5, stretched New York's lead to 5-3 in the third inning with a solo homer off Sean Douglass.


American League

Hideki Matsui homered twice and drove in a career-high six runs in the first three innings against Sean Douglass on Friday to power the Yankees to an 11-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Matsui had his first multihomer gamer in 1 1/2 seasons since coming to the major leagues from Japan. His three-run shot in the first inning offset one hit by Carlos Delgado in the top half.

"It was definitely huge for the team and huge for Javy," Matsui said.

Matsui became the second Japanese player, and second Matsui, to hit two home runs in a major league game. New York Mets shortstop Kaz Matsui did it July 2 against the Yankees at Shea Stadium.

In his first season with the Yankees in 2003, Matsui hit 16 homers in 163 games. He already has 22 homers in 108 games this year.

"Knowing the pitchers, that's the biggest difference of all," Matsui said through an interpreter. "It gives me a chance to have a better plan at the plate."

Matsui, who finished 3-for-5, stretched the Yankees lead to 5-3 in the third with a solo homer off Sean Douglass, and he capped off the six-run inning with a single that drove in two.

"He seems to be taking more liberties now," manager Joe Torre said. "He's become a little more confident."

New York (69-39) won for the sixth time in seven games to move to a season-high 30 games over .500 and build a 10 1/2-game lead over second-place Boston, their largest advantage of the season.

The Blue Jays started a seven-game road trip with their fifth loss in seven games.

Douglass never made it out of the third innings -- he was ejected for hitting John Flaherty in the knee with a pitch three batters after Matsui's second shot. The ejection by plate umpire Chris Guccione came without a warning.

"I didn't even know how to react. I've never been tossed from a game," Douglass said. "I'm still upset at it."

Javier Vazquez (13-6) allowed three runs in the first inning but yielded only two doubles and a single the rest of the way before being removed after the eighth inning.

Tigers 4, Red Sox 3

Dmitri Young had three hits and scored twice Friday, including the go-ahead run in the sixth inning, to help the Detroit Tigers beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3.

Carlos Guillen had three hits, including a game-winning single that helped the Tigers stop a four-game losing streak.

Boston lost for the fourth time in six games and dropped a season-high 10 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Yankees in the American League East. The largest deficit the Red Sox have ever overcome to win the division is 10 games, in 1988.

"I don't think it is bad luck; we've just had a lot of games where we have been one run worse than the other team," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "We need to find a way to be one run better."

Roberto Novoa (1-0) gave up one walk while striking out four over 1 1-3 innings to earn his first major league victory, and Ugueth Urbina picked up his 18th save in 20 chances.

Derek Lowe (9-10) gave up four runs -- for the fifth straight start -- and nine hits over seven innings. Lowe had won two straight and three of his last four decisions.

Devil Rays 2, Mariners 1, 10 innings

In St. Petersburg, Florida, Carl Crawford scored the winning run for Tampa Bay when Seattle shortstop Jose Lopez was charged with obstruction in the 10th inning.

Crawford was on third with the bases loaded and one out when Tino Martinez hit a fly ball to left field off Clint Nageotte (1-6). On the play, Lopez moved toward third and took a position between Crawford and left fielder Raul Ibanez.

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