Yankees' win streak hits six

Yankees' win streak hits six

NEW YORK -- After hitting 11 home runs in their last three wins, the Yankees didn't belt any balls out of the park on Friday, but they scratched out enough offense to defeat the Cleveland Indians, 5-4, at Yankee Stadium.

Slowly but surely, the Yankees are climbing the standings in the American League East. New York has taken the first two games of the four-game weekend series, moving past the Orioles into second place in the American League East, just 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Red Sox.

"It's important that we do that, because the pitchers aren't always accommodating," said manager Joe Torre of the small-ball approach. "We have to do what we can, and we did some good things. Moving runners, sacrifice flies; we played some fundamental baseball tonight."

New York posted a four-run third inning to win for the sixth consecutive game, its eighth victory in the last 10 games.

Chien-Ming Wang earned his sixth win of the season, allowing three runs over 6 2/3 innings. He got help from several of his teammates, as five Yankees each drove in a run.

"It seems like he's been here forever," said catcher Jorge Posada. "He knows how to pitch, does the things to keep us in the game."

Grady Sizemore got the Indians going in a flash, drilling the first pitch of the game over the right-field wall for his ninth home run of the year. Coco Crisp followed with a single, but Wang got Travis Hafner to ground into a double play -- the first of three that Wang would induce.

"He showed a lot of grit tonight," Torre said. "The fact that he gave up a home run on the first pitch, then winds up with a double play in the inning to keep the damage where it was, that was important."

"I think about the next hitter, and I try to get that hitter out," Wang said without the aid of a translator. "Control not too good today. In the first inning, a little bit slippery."

Cleveland plated another run in the second, this one coming on Aaron Boone's RBI single, as the Tribe took a 2-0 lead.

The Yankees battled back in the third, using a walk and a single to set up Derek Jeter's RBI double. Robinson Cano's fielder's choice tied the game at 2, scoring Melky Cabrera.

Two batters later, Alex Rodriguez put the Yankees on top with a single to left, plating Jeter. Jason Giambi added an RBI single of his own, giving New York a 4-2 lead. He slipped running out of the batter's box, and left the game in the sixth with mild stiffness in his left hip flexor.

"I played the extra inning, and it started to tighten up," Giambi said. "I've been swinging the bat too good [to take a chance]."

Wang tossed up zeroes in the third and fourth, but the Indians cut the lead to one in the fifth, as Jody Gerut scored from third on a wild pitch. The inning could have been much worse, but after putting the first two men on base, Wang got Sizemore to ground into a 4-6-3 double play, leaving just Gerut at third.

"It looked like he was on the brink of something disastrous, and he got two double-play balls," Torre said. "For not having his good stuff, he kept us in the game. He's been huge for us."

"The guy is ice out there," Giambi said. "He never has any expression. He can be in a jam, and he still goes out and throws strikes."

New York manufactured another run in the sixth to boost the lead back to two, as Posada's sac fly made it a 5-3 game.

Wang left the game after Boone's third hit of the game, a two-out single in the seventh, brought Sizemore up representing the tying run.

Wayne Franklin got Sizemore to fly out, preserving the lead. Franklin tossed a 1-2-3 eighth, striking out both Hafner and Victor Martinez.

"That's what you look forward to. You want the ball," Franklin said. "You don't want to come here and sit and watch nine innings a day. It's fun to watch these guys, but you want to get out and pitch, too."

"He did a heck of a job," Torre said. "He got four huge outs for us. He looks very relaxed out there. He had a good presence out there."

Mariano Rivera allowed one run in the ninth but earned his 19th save of the season. The run was the first given up by Rivera in his last 23 appearances, dating back to May 6.

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.