Yankees Ride Four-Run First for Win

It was Japan Day at Dodger Stadium, it wasn't planed that way, but that's how it worked out. Dodger Hideo Nomo pitched and slugged a homer. Hideki Matsui hit a three-run homer for the Yankees -- the first time a Japanese batter had homered off a Japanese pitcher in major league history -- and the Japanese ambassador was on hand. But a sellout crowd of 54.876 were not thinking about cherry blossoms and quaint little lanterns as NY ground out a workman-like 6-2 win, keyed by a four-run first.

The usually stoic Nomo was visibly upset by the results and for once his frustration was there for all to see. He dismissed thoughts that his performance was encouraging after allowing four runs in the first inning.

"My personal goal is to come off the mound with my team leading," Nomo said. "This time, I gave up four runs."

Nomo left after seven innings after retiring 13 consecutive batters at one point. He was unhittable after the second inning, with only one Yankee runner winding up in scoring position and that on a wild pitch. He allowed only one single over his final 6.1 innings, pitched a season-high seven innings and the radar gun supported pitching coach Jim Colburn's contention that Nomo's arm strength is returning.

But all in all, Nomo was tagged with yet another loss, his third in three starts since he was activated from the 15-day disabled list almost two weeks ago and his record dropped to 3-8. Nomo leads the league in losses, his ERA is 7.26 and he's winless since April 21.

With two outs and none on in the first inning, Nomo walked Alex Rodriguez. He then got ahead 1-2 to Jason Giambi before throwing a pitch close to the inside corner of the plate that the umpire called a ball. Had the call gone the other way, the afternoon and Nomo's psyche would have been in a much better position.

Giambi battled through 13 pitches before drawing a walk. Gary Sheffield followed with an RBI single to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Nomo then got ahead 0-2 to Hideki Matsui, then served up a first class split-finger fastball that Matsui took a tentative poke at and dropped it just over the 330 foot sign in the right field corner for a home run, and as it worked out, the game.

"I don't know how he hit the ball. He was badly fooled. Matsui hit it to the shortest part of the field. This was Hideo's best outing of the year. That's the Hideo Nomo I remember seeing over the last couple years."--Manager Jim Tracy.

The Dodgers got a run back in the first on Jayson Werth's single, Milton Bradley's double and Shawn Green's RBI groundout. Their second run came on Nomo's fourth career home run (his third as a Dodger), a drive that landed near the Dodgers bullpen in left field. But that was it for the Dodgers, who went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

The Yankees final two runs came off Duaner Sanchez on Alex Rodriguez's RBI single and a throwing error by second baseman Jose Hernandez, the first Dodgers error in 92 innings.

The Dodgers (36-29) saw their lead in the National League West slip to 1 game over San Francisco, which won at home against Boston. The Dodgers complete their interleague series with the Yankees tonight, then head north for a four-game showdown with the Giants.

Dodger Blue Notes--With his next save, Eric Gagné will tie the record for Canadian-born pitchers. John Hiller earned 125 saves for the Detroit Tigers from 1965 to 1980. ... Reliever Paul Shuey will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment this week with the Dodgers' rookie league team in Ogden, Utah. Shuey is slated to pitch one inning Monday, two innings Wednesday and three innings Saturday, depending on pitch counts, then report to Triple-A Las Vegas for an indefinite number of appearances. ... In honor of Father's Day, the Dodgers came up with a neat promotion. Fathers and sons were allowed to play catch on the field at Dodger Stadium Sunday -- sort of a "Field of Dreams" scenario -- with admission and parking free.