Sound Familiar? Late Home Run Propels Yanks

Once again, the New York Yankees defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks late in the game, this time thanks to the timely hitting of Shane Spencer. In last year's World Series, where the Yanks twice came from behind late in the game to come back and win with a home run, they played a similar role last night.

With the bases loaded, two outs and the count full in the 8th inning, Shane Spencer ripped the payoff pitch into the left field stands, completing a four run inning, and gave the D'Backs yet another devastating loss at Yankee Stadium.

Coming into the game, Shane Spencer was struggling, batting just 2-25 in his last 9 appearances, lost his starting job to rookie outfielder Juan Rivera, and was involved in trade talks. For one day at least, Spencer put those thoughts to rest. On the night, Spencer was 3-4 with a home run, four RBIs, a double, and two runs scored.

In the third inning, rookie Marcus Thames' got his first at bat of his career, after being called up from the minors. On the very first pitch from D'Back's ace Randy Johnson, Thames smashed Johnson's high fastball into the left field stands, and received a curtain call from the fans. His home run gave the Yanks an early 2-0 lead. Thames was only the second Yankee ever to homer in his first at bat and the first to do it off of Randy Johnson.

But the Diamondbacks would strike back with two runs in the top of the fourth, with an RBI double by Steve Finley, scoring Greg Colbrunn and Erubiel Durazo, and another two runs in the fifth with RBI singles by Junior Spivey and Luis Gonzalez. After getting off to a solid start, Yankee starter Sterling Hitchcock lasted only four innings, giving up four runs and seven hits in just four and a third innings.

Ahead 4-2 and with Randy Johnson receiving a two run lead, the Yanks appeared to be in trouble. But the Yanks again used the long ball to their advantage, with Derek Jeter hitting an opposite field home run to cut the deficit in half.

Ramiro Mendoza came in to relieve Stanton, and again did a masterful job giving up no runs and one hit in just over two innings of work. Johnson and Mendoza held the opposition at bay for two innings, when Mike Stanton relieved Mendoza, and Pret Prinz replaced the Big Unit, after he gave up a walk to Jason Giambi and a double to Jorge Posada in the 8th.

While Stanton just barely managing to hold his own, Prinz intentionally walked pitch hitter Robin Ventura to set the stage for Shane Spencer. While Torre could have pitch hit for Spencer with rookie Nick Johnson, Torre opted to stay with Spencer, and the move paid off. Spencer drilled the two out full count pitch into the left field stands, to come from behind and defeat the Diamondbacks at home once again.

In the top of the 8th, the D'Backs loaded the bases with no outs, poised to blow the game open. But Stanton proceeded to retire the next three batters, the last two with strikeouts, as the Yanks avoided major damage in the inning.

Stanton, given increased relieving duties because of the injury to Mariano Rivera,gave up a solo home run to Chris Donnels in the 9th inning, but held on to win the decision, his third of the year.

Game two of the three game series will feature David Wells (6-3, 3.74 ERA) on the mound for the Yanks, while Brian Anderson (1-5, 3.94) gets the call for Arizona.

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