Andy Pettitte and another barrage of home runs at the new Yankee Stadium carried New York to a win that started what figures to be a challenging week.
Pettitte recovered from two wild outings, Johnny Damon hit a tiebreaking home run in the sixth inning and the Yankees defeated the visiting Tampa Bay Rays, 5-3, last night.
Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher and Derek Jeter also homered for the Yankees, who got all their runs on longballs as Andy Sonnanstine allowed a career-high four. Tampa Bay's Gabe Kapler hit his first home run of the season.
There have been 105 homers in 29 games at the $1.5 billion bandbox, a sharp increase from the 160 last season at the original Yankee Stadium. It was the 10th five-homer game at the new ballpark.
Damon broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth with a drive to right off Sonnanstine (4-6), and Jeter chased him with a leadoff drive in the eighth. Nine of Damon's 12 home runs this season and six of Jeter's eight have come at home.
"As long as we get the hits and they fly out of the ballpark, it's a good thing," Damon said.
The Yankees improved the AL's best record to 34-23 and are 21-0 when allowing three runs or fewer. They headed to Boston after the game for a three-game series against the Red Sox, who are 5-0 against New York this year. The Yankees then return home for a weekend Subway Series against the Mets.
Pettitte (6-2) allowed three runs - two earned - and five hits in six innings, striking out a season-high seven. After walking 11 in his previous two starts, he cut his bases on balls to three.
Phil Hughes, bumped to the bullpen so Chien-Ming Wang could rejoin the rotation, followed with his first major league relief outing following 28 career starts. Hughes pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, Phil Coke followed with a hitless eighth and Mariano Rivera finished with a perfect ninth for his 14th save in 15 chances - his second straight 1-2-3 outing against the Rays after allowing four runs in a rare loss Saturday.
All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria returned to the Rays' starting lineup after missing nearly a week with an injured left hamstring and went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk.
In other games:
* At Chicago, Brandon Inge singled home the go-ahead run in the ninth inning as the Detroit Tigers beat the White Sox, 5-4, in the opener of a day-night doubleheader. In the nightcap, Jose Contreras allowed one hit in eight strong innings in his return to the majors as White Sox won, 6-1.
* At Arlington, Texas, Adam Lind homered twice and drove in four runs, and the Toronto Blue Jays snapped a nine-game road losing streak, beating the Rangers, 6-3.
* Slumping Red Sox slugger David Ortiz had an eye exam, and his vision checked out "very well," the team said. He was given drops for dry eyes. Ortiz has two homers and 22 RBI with a .197 batting average in 51 games.
* Texas Rangers centerfielder Josh Hamilton will undergo surgery today to repair a partial tear in an abdominal muscle and is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks.
* The man charged with killing Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others in a drunken-driving crash pleaded not guilty in Santa Ana, Calif., to three counts of murder as relatives of the victims looked on.
Andrew Thomas Gallo also pleaded not guilty through his attorney to three other felony charges and one misdemeanor in connection with the April 9 collision that occurred just hours after Adenhart pitched six scoreless innings in his season debut. *