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Giambi ends long night with long ball

Giambi ends long night with long ball

OAKLAND -- Brian Bruney said he took an extra measure of satisfaction when rookie Travis Buck went down looking at a called third strike in the 13th inning Saturday, the final touch on a 4-3 marathon Yankees victory at McAfee Coliseum.

Approximately 24 hours earlier, Buck had thrown his batting helmet near home plate in celebration of Oakland's series-opening victory, a gesture that Bruney -- Friday's losing pitcher -- thought to be excessive.

There was no such celebration Saturday after Jason Giambi hit a towering home run in the 13th inning.

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Bruney said he watched replays of the Buck highlights a few times before Saturday's game, and while it wasn't the only motivation behind the right-hander's two-inning relief effort, it surely didn't hurt.

"You see a guy slam a helmet in front of you after the game is over last night, [that] makes it a little extra special," Bruney said. "I thought that was a little disrespectful last night. Our guys win with class."

Informed of Bruney's comments, Buck said he hadn't meant to offend. Just nine games into his Major League career, Buck said that his exuberance came as a result of playing what he called his first exciting game at this level.

"Maybe I showed a little bit of rookie-ness there or whatever, but over here, we just like to have fun," Buck said. "If that was showing them up, there was no intent at all."

The Yankees saw to it that Oakland's clubhouse wasn't quite as lively on Saturday.

After falling into a 3-0 hole after the first inning, the Yankees battled back to tie the game, enduring a marathon contest and garnering the timely home run from Giambi, who went hitless in his first five at-bats before slugging a solo shot off Oakland reliever Lenny DiNardo.

DiNardo, the fifth A's hurler in the contest, had set the Yankees down in the 11th and 12th innings before Giambi reached him for a blast over the right-center-field wall.

After the game, Giambi said he was relieved to finally come through at the plate. The fact that his second homer of the season proved to be a pivotal hit just happened to be a bonus.

"I hit the ball hard, I hit it soft, and it's like I can't find a hole," Giambi said. "It's just nice to hit a ball hard and get rewarded for it. I just go up there trying to battle and luckily it came at a good time."

Yankees manager Joe Torre said that while Giambi has been in an extended offensive struggle to open the 2007 season -- after a 1-for-6 performance Saturday, Giambi is batting just .200 -- his veteran presence has kept the 36-year-old slugger from showing any adverse effects in his work ethic and preparation.

"To me, you feel so secure with these guys playing on the team," Torre said. "You can't really tell their batting average from their personality."

Giambi may have been laughing on the outside, but chances were that he was churning within. Saturday's homer helped relieve some of that.

"I think there's a demon inside me that I don't let anybody see," Giambi said.

Oakland had scored three unearned runs in the first inning against starter Darrell Rasner, but was held scoreless through the following 12 frames.

After a sleepy first three innings against Oakland starter Joe Blanton, Alex Rodriguez put the Yankees on the board in the fifth with his Major League-leading seventh home run, powering a solo blast to left-center.

Melky Cabrera added another run later in the inning with a one-out RBI single to left that scored Robinson Cano.

"We seemed very flat early out there, and all of a sudden, Alex's home run brought us back to life," Torre said.

The Yankees tied the game in the seventh as Blanton finished a 110-pitch effort. Cano worked an eight-pitch walk to open the inning and came around to score as Jorge Posada ripped a two-out, pinch-hit double.

Blanton, who has not beaten the Yankees in three career starts, allowed three runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out five.

Rasner made the spot start for New York, pitching in place of Carl Pavano, and limited the A's to three unearned runs -- all of which scored in the first inning.

A native of Carson City, Nev., about a 3-1/2 hour drive from Oakland, Rasner said he attended numerous games at the Coliseum and relished the opportunity to pitch in front of some well-wishers who made the trek for Saturday's contest.

"I came here quite a bit as a kid and got to see some great players play here," said Rasner, who allowed five hits, walked none and struck out one in 5 1/3 innings. "It's kind of cool to come in here and get to play on the field."

Yankees pitching continued to navigate past danger all evening, with eight hurlers taking the hill for New York and working through a season-high four errors.

Henn relieved Rasner and finished the sixth, but worked into trouble in the seventh, as Derek Jeter committed a throwing error and Buck singled -- one of four times on base for the Oakland right fielder.

Scott Proctor came on and retired the next five hitters before Mike Myers recorded an out in the eighth. From there, Torre called upon a succession of Luis Vizcaino, Kyle Farnsworth, Mariano Rivera and Bruney to keep the Athletics off the board.

Bruney received an opportunity for redemption just 24 hours after he watched Oakland win in 11 innings.

He was also, as he said, at "the end of the line" -- if the game had kept going deep into the night, Torre suggested that utilityman Miguel Cairo might have taken the mound, but the Yankees were glad it never came to that.

"Bruney was out there until he got a decision," Torre said. "I'm glad it was the right one."

Taking the mound for the 12th inning, Bruney retired the top of the A's lineup in order and -- after Giambi gave the Yankees their first lead of the evening -- Bruney finished the job by retiring the last three A's following a four-pitch walk to Eric Chavez.

"This could be a big early season win," Giambi said. "We might look back and say this is the beginning. Hopefully that'll be the one that really turns it around for us."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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