Oakland, CA (Sports Network) - The New York Yankees target their ninth consecutive win this evening and try to sweep the Oakland Athletics for the second time in a week in the process when they conclude their three-game set at Network Associates Coliseum.
The winning streak for New York is the team's longest since it also won eight straight from September 7-13 of last season.
Javier Vazquez gets the call tonight for New York, as he tries to put back-to- back wins together for the first time this season. On Friday against the Kansas City Royals, Vazquez was brilliant in allowing a pair of runs on two hits over eight frames to improve to 3-2 on the year. He also struck out five without walking a batter and lowered his earned run average to 2.55.
Vazquez has only faced the A's once in his career and is 0-1 against them with a 7.11 ERA.
Oakland will counter with 22-year-old righthander Rich Harden, who is still trying for his first win of the season. Harden, 0-2 with a 4.37 ERA on the year, is coming off a no-decision against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Saturday, as he yielded a run on six hits in six innings of his team's 6-5 win.
Harden, who lost his only start in the Bay Area this season, will be making his first-ever appearance against the Yanks tonight.
In the middle contest of the set on Wednesday, Alex Rodriguez keyed a two-run ninth inning with his second home run in as many days to help lift the Yankees to a 4-3 win. In the series-opener on Tuesday, the Yankees rallied from a 7-1 deficit to earn the win.
Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi also homered for New York, which has not swept the A's in Oakland since taking three straight from May 31-June 2, 1996
Hideki Matsui posted three hits and Tony Clark drove home the go-ahead run in the victory.
Paul Quantrill (3-1) picked up the victory after tossing 1 1/3 perfect innings. Mariano Rivera survived a shaky ninth inning, but earned his 11th save of the season.
Scott Hatteberg hit his third home run of the season for the Athletics, who have lost nine of their last 11 games. Eric Byrnes and Eric Chavez each recorded an RBI in the losing effort.
Arthur Rhodes (0-1) blew his second save of the season, as he allowed three hits and two runs, while walking a pair in the ninth.
Prior to last night's contest, the Yankees optioned Cuban righthander Jose Contreras to Class A Tampa, a day after the shortest outing of his career. New York wants him to work on his mechanics under pitching guru Billy Connors, the Yankees' vice president of player personnel.
On the injury front for New York, shortstop Derek Jeter missed last night's game with a stomach virus and is questionable for tonight's affair. Also, red- hot Ruben Sierra, who pinch-hit in last night's win, has been bothered by a hamstring cramp.
The A's. who will be playing the third leg of a six-game homestand tonight, are 4-7 in the Bay Area this season. The Yankees, who are in the midst of a six-game road trip, are 7-6 away from home this season.
The Yanks, who will host the A's in a three-game set in Oakland, dropped four of their six matchups in Oakland last season, and are just 6-11 there since the start of the 2001 campaign.