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Royals beat Yankees 3-2, gain split in four-game series

NEW YORK _ Enough. Finally and just barely. But enough.

Red-hot Jose Guillen led off the ninth inning Monday with home run against Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and this time, finally, the Royals held onto the lead in a 3-2 victory at Yankee Stadium.

Guillen’s homer came on an 0-2 pitch and just cleared the left-field wall. It capped a remarkable weekend series in which he hit four homers and drove in 10 runs.

Joakim Soria worked around a bases-loaded jam in the ninth for his 14th save in 15 opportunities. That completed a roller-coaster weekend for Soria, who saved Friday’s victory before blowing a ninth-inning lead in Saturday’s loss.

Yasuhiko Yabuta, 1-0, got his first major-league victory after stranding two runners when he replaced Ramon Ramirez with two outs in the eighth inning. Rivera, 2-2, was the loser.

Soria and the Royals survived a wild ninth before salvaging a split in the four-game series. Alex Rodriguez led off with a squib single, and Jason Giambi worked a one-out walk.

Robinson Cano struck out, but Soria loaded the bases by hitting Chad Moeller.

More heartache on tap? Not this time.

Soria ended the game by getting Melky Cabrera to hit a weak grounder to first baseman Mark Teahen for the final out.

The 2-2 series split marked the first time since 1999 that the Royals have won two games in any season at Yankee Stadium. They are just 11-47 in the South Bronx since the start of the 1995 season.

The Royals held on for a 2-1 victory Friday in the series opener before blowing three leads in Saturday’s 12-11 loss. The Yankees won 6-3 on Sunday.

Monday’s two starters _ Luke Hochevar and Mike Mussina _ settled for no-decisions after strong performances. Hochevar gave up two runs and four hits in six-plus innings, while Mussina allowed two runs and seven hits in eight innings.

Miguel Olivo broke open a scoreless tie with two-run homer with two outs in the seventh. It was a no-doubt bomb on an 88-mph fastball that sailed deep over the left-field wall. It followed a one-out double by Guillen.

Olivo’s homer was his eighth of the season, second on the club to Guillen’s 11. The Royals had a chance for more when John Buck followed with a single before Mike Aviles punched a double into the right-field corner.

Mussina stranded both runners by retiring Joey Gathright on a grounder to third. The lasted two hitters into the New York seventh.

Bobby Abreu led off with a double over David DeJesus in left, and Rodriguez followed with a two-run homer. That tied the game and finished Hochevar, who had allowed only two singles in six innings before Abreu’s double.

Hochevar retired 14 in a row after Johnny Damon’s leadoff single in the first. The streak ended when Robinson Cano pulled a two-out single to right in the fifth inning. Cano reached second when Guillen overran the ball for an error.

It didn’t matter. Hochevar struck out Jose Molina.

Hochevar admitted he let the aura of Fenway Park affect him last month in a 7-0 loss last month at Boston. Not that it mattered much that night; that’s when Jon Lester threw a no-hitter.

Yankee Stadium presented no such problem. Hochevar rolled through the first six innings by facing just two hitters over the minimum.

The Royals just couldn’t do anything against Mussina either.

The lack of support for Hochevar was nothing new. The Royals are averaging just 2.15 runs per nine innings while he is on the mound in his 10 starts. His four mound opponents before Mussina had all thrown complete games. The Royals put runners at first and third with one out in the second but got nothing when Buck grounded into a double play. Mussina didn’t allow another runner until Aviles opened the sixth with a single. Aviles went to second on Gathright’s sacrifice but got no farther when DeJesus flied to center and Mark Grudzielanek grounded out to second.

To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, call 816-234-4352 or send e-mail to bdutton@kcstar.com.

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