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YANKEES' MARTINEZ RESPONDS TO TORRE'S QUIET PRODDING

Like the Mets, the Yankees have suffered a September swoon. But while Bobby Valentine loudly placed the blame on himself, Joe Torre said nothing.

Perhaps that helped the Yankees put the brakes their sloppy three-game losing streak, the Bombers downing the Orioles, 9-5, Tuesday night at Camden Yards behind a monster showing from Tino Martinez and an excellent relief effort from Ramiro Mendoza.

"I think we realized how sloppy we played this weekend against Tampa Bay," Martinez said. "We didn't have any enthusiasm, no intensity and played sloppy. Without having a (team) meeting, I think everyone saw Joe's face after (Monday's) game and he was upset. He didn't say a word. And we came out and played a real good hard game tonight."

The Yankees, their magic number now at two, could clinch their third AL East crown in four years here tonight (7 p.m., MSG) when Roger Clemens (14-9) faces Mike Mussina (17-7).

Boston was rained out in Chicago, meaning the Yanks (95-62) increased their division lead to 4 1/2 games with five to play. Cleveland and Texas also won to remain one game ahead of the Yankees and one game behind, respectively, for the AL's best record.

"We want to do it ourselves," Torre said. "That's the way it should be. We can't count on anybody else."

Martinez smacked three hits, including a home run, and drove in four runs to become the fourth Yankee to drive in more than 100 runs in the same season for the first time in 60 years.

Rookie D'Angelo Jimenez, an injury replacement for Chuck Knoblauch (thumb), snapped a 5-5 tie with a two-out, two-run single in the sixth to make a winner of Mendoza, who tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Yarnall.

With Yarnall trailing 4-1 with two on and two out in the third, Martinez crushed Sidney Ponson's first pitch into the right-field bleachers to tie the game.

He joined Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill and Derek Jeter as the fifth foursome in team history to each collect 100 RBI in a season. It marked the first time the feat has been accomplished since Joe DiMaggio led the way in 1939.

No letdown for Diamondbacks

PHOENIX -- There's been no letdown for the Arizona Diamondbacks after clinching the NL West title.

The Diamondbacks matched their longest winning streak of the season at a club-record seven by beating the Colorado Rockies, 9-3.

The victory was Arizona's 97th. In the race for the best record and home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs, the Diamondbacks trail Atlanta by three games with five to play.

"It's going to be kind of hard to catch the Braves unless they just fall flat on their face," said the Diamondbacks' Steve Finley, who hit a pair of two-run homers. Finley's 33rd and 34th home runs gave him a career-high 103 RBIs.

Vinny Castilla drove in both of the Rockies' runs with his 33rd homer, giving him 101 RBIs.

That made Arizona and Colorado the sixth and seventh teams in NL history to have four players with at least 100 RBIs.

Matt Williams, Jay Bell and Luis Gonzalez also have more than 100 RBIs for the Diamondbacks.

Dante Bichette, Larry Walker and Todd Helton each have topped 100 for the Rockies.

Jaret on Wright track

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove took his starter out after five innings after he allowed just one run and one hit.

Hargrove, trying to set up his rotation for the postseason, pulled Jaret Wright at the top of the sixth inning with the Indians down, 1-0, to Kansas City.

Wright threw just 63 pitches, 35 of them strikes, in what turned out to be a 2-1 Indians victory over the Kansas City Royals.

"Jaret threw strikes," Hargrove said. "We were only going to go five innings with him. He's going to come back on Saturday and pitch then, to get him in line for the postseason."

Wright gave up only a fourth-inning single to Carlos Beltran, who then stole second, went to third on catcher Sandy Alomar's error, and scored on Jermaine Dye's sacrifice fly.

Robbie Alomar and Richie Sexson drove in runs in the eighth inning to make a winner of Jim Brower (3-1).

Beltran needs nine hits in his final four games to become the fourth rookie in history with 200 hits, 100 RBIs and 100 runs. The other three are Dale Alexander (Detroit, 1929), Hal Trosky (Cleveland, 1934) and Joe DiMaggio (New York Yankees, 1936).

Beltran was the 12th straight baserunner to steal a base against Sandy Alomar since the catcher returned from arthroscopic knee surgery Sept. 5.

Around the horn

With the playoffs just a week away, the Red Sox had to wait at least another day before clinching the last AL playoff spot. The Athletics kept their slim hopes alive and snapped a four-game losing streak with a 9-3 victory over the Angels. Boston -- needing one victory or a loss by the A's to clinch the wild card -- was rained out in Chicago and must play a doubleheader today. . . . Shawn Green homered, doubled and tied a career high with five RBIs, leading David Wells and the Blue Jays over the Devil Rays, 8-2. Brian McRae hit a three-run homer in the ninth off 35-year-old Tampa Bay rookie Jim Morris. Green, with 41 home runs, set a Toronto record with 84 extra-base hits. . . . Rafael Palmeiro hit his 47th homer to tie a team record and the Rangers trounced the Mariners, 10-0. . . . Dean Palmer hit a three-run homer with two outs to cap a five-run ninth inning as the Tigers beat the Twins, 7-4. . . . Chan Ho Park allowed three hits over six innings to win his seventh straight decision and Gary Sheffield homered twice to lead the Dodgers over the Giants, 6-3. The Giants said outfielder Barry Bonds will skip the team's last series in Colorado to undergo arthroscopic surgery Friday on his inflamed left knee. . . . Rookie Vladimir Nunez (7-10) pitched a career-best eight innings in his 12th start, stopping a personal four-game losing streak as the Marlins beat the Expos, 5-3.

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