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Johnson lifts Yankees to shutout win
The Cardinals managed just five hits in a 5-0 loss.
ST. LOUIS -- The old Randy Johnson responded to Joe Torre's new motivational tactic.
A day after the New York Yankees got a tongue-lashing from their manager, Johnson outpitched Mark Mulder and beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-0 Saturday.
"I thought we played with a lot more intensity today," Derek Jeter said. "It doesn't hurt that Randy pitched well, too."
Jeter and Alex Rodriguez each had two RBIs for the Yankees in their third victory in 11 games on a season-high 12-game trip. New York's sloppy three-error performance in an 8-1 loss Friday night prompted the usually even-keeled Torre to call a closed-door meeting.
"Certainly, we're closer to the team you saw today than last night," Torre said. "Last night was just a horrible experience for all us. We just have to build on something."
Johnson (6-5) allowed four two-out hits in seven innings to bounce back from losses in consecutive starts. He earned his 252nd win to pull ahead of Cardinals Hall of Famer Bob Gibson for 41st place on the career list. Johnson struck out seven and walked none to win for the first time in St. Louis since April 16, 2002, when he was with the Diamondbacks.
"I think this road trip's been pretty rough for just about everybody," Johnson said. "I felt pretty comfortable out there, especially after we scored some early runs."
It was a much better day all-around for Torre, who received a standing ovation when he removed a number from the right-field wall as part of the countdown for the final year of Busch Stadium. Torre played for six seasons in St. Louis, winning the MVP and a batting title in 1971, and managed the Cardinals from 1990 to 1995. He received what amounted to a victory lap around the warning track after the ceremony with team mascot Fredbird piloting a miniature car.
"It was much nicer to do it with a four-run lead than it would have been otherwise," Torre said. "I always felt very close here, especially in my playing days."
The Cardinals, who lost for just the third time in their last 20 interleague games, will be trying to win consecutive series against the American League's highest profile teams in the finale on Sunday. St. Louis began the week by taking two of three from the Boston Red Sox in a World Series rematch.
"[Johnson] was really oiled up and throwing well," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "The only way to win that game was 1-0."
Johnson, who had entered 1-5 on the road with a 5.35 ERA in five start starts, dominated a lineup minus the Cardinals' top two left-handed hitters. Jim Edmonds, banged up a bit in recent games, and Larry Walker both had the day off despite good numbers against Johnson.
Edmonds is 6-for-25 with two home runs and Walker is 11-for-28, but La Russa said both needed a break. Both pinch hit in the eighth, with Edmonds drawing a walk off Tom Gordon and Walker taking a called third strike from Mariano Rivera for the third out with runners on second and third.
Gordon left with two outs in the eighth after taking a grounder off his right hand. Rivera finished the five-hitter by getting the last four outs for his 14th straight save after blowing his first two opportunities this season.
Mulder (7-4) lost his third straight start, allowing four runs on seven hits in six innings. Since 2001, Mulder leads left-handers with 79 victories and Johnson is second with 73.
The Yankees manufactured a run in the first on Hideki Matsui's one-out walk, a single by Gary Sheffield and an RBI groundout by Rodriguez.
A poor decision by Cardinals third baseman Abraham Nunez opened the door for the Yankees' three-run fourth. With one out and runners at first and second, Nunez had time to make at least a forceout at third after fielding Johnson's tapper just beyond the grass apron but instead he threw to first and the runners moved up.
"Nobody was yelling to throw it anywhere and everybody was moving," Nunez said. "I didn't think I had an out anywhere else."
The next batter, Jeter, hit a two-run single and Matsui followed with an RBI double off the right-field wall for a 4-0 lead. Rodriguez added an RBI infield hit in the ninth.
The Yankees made no errors on Saturday and benefited from a nice throw by Matsui in left to save a run in the fourth. Matsui easily caught Reggie Sanders at the plate trying to score from second on Mark Grudzielanek's line-drive single with two outs in the fourth.