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YANKEES 7, D'BACKS 1

Yankees hitting their lucky stride

New York earns ninth straight win

NEW YORK -- Joe Torre found his new lucky spot in the dugout, then watched Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, and the rest of the team go to work.

Yep, things are falling into place nicely for the New York Yankees.

Rodriguez drove in two more runs, Pettitte breezed for eight innings, and the Yankees won their ninth straight game, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks, 7-1, yesterday.

"It's fun right now to come to the ballpark and do this," Pettitte said.

Playing with a fresh bounce in their step, the Yankees finished off another sweep -- they brushed aside Pittsburgh last weekend -- and extended their longest winning streak since a 10-game run in 2005. Next up, the New York Mets visit for the Subway Series.

Torre certainly enjoyed the view, standing in front of the steps that lead up to the field, rather than taking his usual seat on the padded blue bench. Before the game, the manager indicated it was a bit of superstition to help his team score runs.

"I have a system," Torre said. "I'll let you in on it sometime down the road. It's not very complicated."

He's not the only one with a little routine. After the national anthem, Hideki Matsui gave a playful kick to Melky Cabrera's leg and Robinson Cano tapped his glove on Derek Jeter's shoulder as they prepared to take their positions. Matsui then went out and drove in three runs.

"You start feeling good about yourself and things start going your way," Torre said.

At 33-31, the Yankees matched their high point this season. A modest mark, certainly, but a vast improvement for a club that was eight games under .500 and 14 1/2 games behind Boston barely two weeks ago.

After the Red Sox lost, 7-1, to the Colorado Rockies, the Yankees were within 7 1/2 games of first place.

Arizona was 10 games over .500 when it came to Yankee Stadium, but dropped three in a row. The debunked Diamondbacks made three costly errors and lost for the sixth time in seven games.

"Obviously, we caught this team at the wrong time," manager Bob Melvin said. "We didn't play well enough to win today. We didn't pitch well enough, we didn't swing the bats well enough.

"We don't usually kick it around as much," he said.

The Diamondbacks also saw second baseman Orlando Hudson hobble off the field after jamming his left ankle running out a single. It's been a recurring injury, and he is day to day.

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