- The Washington Times - Monday, September 22, 2008

NEW YORK | After all those championships in this celebrated place, all those unforgettable moments, the New York Yankees weren’t about to be knocked out of the playoff race on a night like this.

Mariano Rivera finished what Babe Ruth started 85 years ago, and New York bid farewell to fabled Yankee Stadium with a 7-3 victory Sunday night that prevented postseason elimination - at least for a day.

Derek Jeter was lifted with two outs in the ninth and jogged off the field to a raucous cheer before coming out for a curtain call.

A loss officially would have ended New York’s run of 13 straight playoff appearances, and a Boston win Monday night against Cleveland still would do the trick.

But on a beautiful Bronx night dripping with history and nostalgia, the Yankees refused to ruin the grand festivities.

Johnny Damon and Jose Molina homered to back Andy Pettitte (14-14), a fitting winner after he helped pitch New York to four World Series titles and six AL pennants from 1996 to 2003.

Joba Chamberlain worked 1 2/3 hitless innings, and Rivera closed out the final regular-season home game before New York moves next year into a $1.3 billion palace rising across the street.

So it ended as it should have, after the Babe opened the ballpark on April 18, 1923, with a home run in a 4-1 victory over the Red Sox that sent the Yankees on their way to the first of a record 26 World Series championships.

New York finished 4,133-2,430-17 at Yankee Stadium, originally built in 284 days for $2.5 million. It was the first sports venue to be called a stadium, the team noted.

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