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CONTRERAS SHARP IN YANKS DEBUT

Jose Contreras made the New York Yankees' rotation a little more crowded.

Contreras made an impressive pitch to remain a starter, allowing two hits in seven innings in his first career start as the Yankees beat Detroit, 6-0, Friday night behind two homers by Jason Giambi.

"Of course I'd like to, but it's not my decision," Contreras said about staying in the rotation. "I'm going to keep preparing for whatever role I'm needed."

Contreras, who left Cuba and signed a $32 million, four-year contract with New York in the offseason, got a one-start trial in place of an injured David Wells.

But with a strong first start, Jeff Weaver's recent struggles and owner George Steinbrenner's public wishes for Contreras to join the rotation, the Cuban defector's stay might not be so brief.

"It's a nice problem to have," manager Joe Torre said. "In this game, things have a way of working themselves out. I'm not about to make any decision before I have to."

The Yankees have won three straight following a season-high five-game skid, and coupled with Boston's loss in Toronto, they moved a half-game ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East.

Detroit was shut out for the 10th time, in front of a crowd of 28,003, the largest at Comerica Park since opening day. The next closest teams in the AL are Baltimore and Toronto with four shutouts each.

Contreras posted a 15.63 ERA through his first six relief appearances. But after struggling in his first game back from the minors, Contreras allowed one hit in five scoreless innings his past two outings.

"I gave him the lineup card after the game," Torre said. "This was big for him."

Contreras didn't give up a hit until Kevin Witt -- the only Tiger who had faced him -- doubled in the fifth. Witt faced Contreras in a Triple-A game earlier this year.

Left fielder Juan Rivera helped Contreras out in the seventh when he made a leaping catch over the left-field wall to deny Dmitri Young a two-run homer.

Contreras had 49 strikes in his 81-pitch outing. He struck out six and, walked one and had one wild pitch. His longest previous outing was four innings last Saturday when Wells hurt his right calf.

"I had pretty good control of all my pitches," he said through an interpreter. "I felt really good."

Antonio Osuna and Chris Hammond finished the four-hitter for New York's fourth shutout of the season and first since April 17 against Toronto.

Blue Jays pound Red Sox

TORONTO -- Vernon Wells and the Toronto Blue Jays showed the Boston Red Sox why they are the top offensive club in the majors.

Wells hit a three-run homer and Carlos Delgado, Greg Myers and Frank Catalanotto also drove in three runs apiece as the Blue Jays handed the Red Sox their first three-game losing streak of the season with a 13-2 win.

Toronto leads the majors in runs, hits and extra-base hits. Boston is second in the majors in those categories.

"Coming out of spring training we knew we had a chance to do something special, but obviously you don't expect to score five, six or seven runs a game," Wells said. "It's been fun."

Delgado went 3 for 4 with a walk and now has a major league-leading 55 RBIs. Wells is second with 52.

Rookie Reed Johnson scored four runs for the Blue Jays, who set a franchise record with their 20th win in May. The Blue Jays also matched a club record for wins in any month. They last reached that mark in August 1989 when they went 20-9.

"Everything has just come together for us. We're getting both hitting and pitching on the same nights," said Catalanotto. "This is the most fun I've had. I've played with Detroit and Texas and I think every single year we've come in last place, so I've never been on a winning team in the majors."

Red Sox pitching coach Tony Cloninger, who is undergoing chemotherapy to treat bladder cancer, didn't make the trip because of the SARS scare.

Around the horn

C.C. Sabathia (4-2), pitching for the first time since May 21 when he sprained his left ankle, got the win and Ben Broussard hit a two-run homer, sending the Indians to a 7-3 win over the White Sox. . . . Omar Daal allowed one run in eight innings and the Orioles kept up their assault on the Rangers' pitching staff in an 8-1 victory. Jeff Conine homered, David Segui hit a three-run double and Luis Matos had two hits and an RBI for the Orioles, who have scored 35 runs against the Rangers in four games over seven days. . . . Damion Easley had three hits and three RBIs as the Devil Rays came from behind to beat the Angels, 8-6. Dewon Brazelton pitched six innings to get his first major league victory. . . . Joel Pineiro pitched a four-hitter and set a career high with 12 strikeouts as the Mariners beat the Twins, 6-0. . . . Michael Tucker tied a career high with five RBIs as the Royals roughed up Tim Hudson and beat the Athletics, 11-6, to stop a four-game losing streak. Hudson (4-2) gave up nine runs -- six earned -- and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings.

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