- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 21, 2008

NEW YORK | Robinson Cano hit an RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning, and the New York Yankees staved off postseason elimination Saturday, beating the Baltimore Orioles 1-0.

Playing what is likely to be the penultimate game at Yankee Stadium, New York got a perfect inning from Mariano Rivera (6-5) and a fine start by impressive rookie Alfredo Aceves.

But it was a painful victory. Derek Jeter left after getting hit on the hand by a pitch in the ninth, which started the winning rally. Jeter’s status for Sunday night was uncertain, though it’s hard to imagine him missing the Yankee Stadium farewell no matter how badly he’s hurt.

“I don’t need to ask,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s not broken. It’s sore.”

The Yankees cut Boston’s American League wild card lead to 6 1/2 games with seven to play. The Red Sox lost 6-3 at Toronto.

A New York loss combined with a Boston win would have knocked the Yankees out of contention, assuring they would miss a postseason for the first time since 1993. New York’s run of 13 straight playoff berths began in 1995, a year after a labor dispute between players and owners led to the postseason being canceled.

So the Yankees are still alive - but barely. They could be eliminated Sunday with a loss and a Boston win, which would put a damper on all the festivities planned for the 85-year-old ballpark in its regular-season finale.

Andy Pettitte will pitch for the Yankees before a national television audience. Next season, New York will move into a $1.3 billion palace being built across the street.

Brian Burres was even better than Aceves, shutting down the Yankees on three hits through seven innings. The lefty also walked none in his first start since Aug. 31.

Jim Miller (0-2) struck out two in a 1-2-3 eighth before plunking Jeter on the left hand to begin the ninth. Jeter jumped away in pain, then let his arm dangle by his side as he was checked by a trainer.

Quickly removed from the game, Jeter tossed his helmet in the dugout before disappearing down the runway - a rare display of frustration for one of baseball’s most poised players.

“It doesn’t feel good,” he said.

Jeter was hit on the same hand by a pitch from Baltimore’s Daniel Cabrera in May. The Yankees’ captain wears a pad on the outside of his batting glove, but he appeared to get hit flush.

Pinch-runner Brett Gardner stole second, and Bobby Abreu was intentionally walked. Alex Rodriguez hit a potential double-play grounder to second, but shortstop Juan Castro’s relay to first was wide.

Rodriguez swiped second as Jason Giambi struck out against Jamie Walker, and Xavier Nady was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Cano lined Walker’s next pitch on one hop into center and was mobbed by excited teammates on the infield. By the time the ball reached the outfield, Walker had slammed his glove to the ground.

The 25-year-old Aceves yielded five hits over six innings in his third major league start, all strong outings this month. New York has won four straight and seven of eight.

The Orioles dropped to 2-19 in their last 21 one-run games and have lost 24 of 31 overall.

“I’ll take the good starting pitching every time,” manager Dave Trembley said. “Obviously, it’s been an area where we have been improving. That’s a real positive. I have no problem with the effort that this team has been displaying every night.”

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