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  Monday, May 29 1:05pm ET
Pettitte twirls two-hitter for Yanks

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Yankees handing out World Series rings is almost a yearly occurrence. Complete games by both pitchers might be odd in this era of, but it's happened two straight days at Yankee Stadium.
Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter drove in one of the Yankees' four runs Monday.
So how about a really rare feat?

Randy Velarde accomplished about the rarest of all in baseball, turning just the 10th unassisted triple play in the regular season as the Oakland Athletics beat New York 4-1 Monday.

"I had it played perfectly," Velarde said. "Both guys took off, it was a soft liner. I caught it. Tag, tag, that's it."

As simple as it sounds and as it looked, Velarde's play happens less often than a four-homer game, a perfect game or just about any other individual feat. And it's happened twice to Velarde, although the first came in a spring-training game on April 17, 1995, when he did it to Los Angeles while playing shortstop for the Yankees.

"The chances of that happening?" Velarde asked. "You have a better chance of being hit by lightning."

But it did. With runners on first and second and a full count on Shane Spencer in the bottom of the sixth, Yankees manager Joe Torre sent the runners in motion and Spencer hit a soft line drive to Velarde's right.

"As soon as the ball was hit, I knew it was a triple play," Oakland pitcher Omar Olivares said. "I saw Randy catch the ball and how far the runners were off base and started walking to the dugout. It was pretty easy."

Velarde caught the ball, tagged out Jorge Posada, who reached first base on Velarde's error, then stepped on second to beat Tino Martinez, who was nearly at third base. It was the first unassisted triple play in the majors since July 8, 1994, when Boston's John Valentin turned one against Seattle.

Velarde nonchalantly flipped the ball to second base umpire Rick Reed -- not quite grasping the magnitude of the play -- and walked to the dugout. The ball will be shipped to the Hall of Fame and Velarde said he would be willing to send his glove as well.

"They better wait until I break in a new one," he warned. "But it would be an honor." It is Oakland's seventh triple play and first since April 7, 1996, against Detroit. The Athletics had never turned an unassisted triple play in their history. Velarde's feat overshadowed the Yankees' World Series ring ceremony before the game and Andy Pettitte's two-hitter -- the least he's allowed in 15 career complete games.

The Yankees celebrated their third championship in four years, receiving their rings from the most decorated player in baseball history, Yogi Berra, who won a record 10 World Series titles as a player.

"Everybody was very excited about getting the rings and bringing back the memory of last year and how satisfying it was," Torre said. "It was pretty emotional." There was little excitement between the pregame ceremony and Velarde's play in the sixth inning. Bernie Williams went 2-for-4 with an RBI triple and a solo homer.

Pettitte (4-2) kept his pitches down in the strike zone. He induced 17 groundball outs -- including nine to second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, who didn't commit an error on 11 total chances.

"I wanted to go out and just get groundballs," Pettitte said. "I felt like I was doing that in my last start and I wanted to stay in that groove. I feel like I'm locked in pretty good right now."

The only hit Pettitte allowed until the ninth inning was Jason Giambi's ground-rule double with two outs in the first. After hitting Olmedo Saenz with one out in the fourth, Pettitte retired 15 straight batters before Velarde hit a solo homer, becoming the first player to homer and turn an unassisted triple play in the same game.

Derek Jeter's RBI double in the third inning off Omar Olivares (3-6) broke a scoreless tie and was New York's first run since the sixth inning Saturday against Boston. The Yankees were shut out by Pedro Martinez on Sunday night, when the Boston ace outdueled Roger Clemens 2-0.

After Paul O'Neill walked to lead off the sixth, Williams hit a shoulder-high fastball to the wall in right-center. Right fielder Matt Stairs jumped, but the ball ricocheted off the wall and rolled past center fielder Terrence Long, allowing O'Neill to score and Williams to get a triple.

After Martinez was hit on an 0-2 pitch, Velarde's error on Posada's grounder allowed the third run to score and set up the triple play.

"I let the team down with that error," Velarde said. "It was a routine grounder. I have to make that play. I'd take the double play over the triple play.

"It was historical. But on the losing end of the game, it doesn't have much meaning."

Game notes
An unassisted triple play also occurred in Game 5 of the 1920 World Series, when Cleveland's Bill Wambsganss turned it against Brooklyn. ... The Yankees last hit into a triple play on June 17, 1999, against Texas. ... There were no relievers needed in the last two games at Yankee Stadium. ... Pettitte's only shutout came July 5, 1997, in a six-hitter at Toronto. ... Olivares allowed four runs and six hits in his 15th career complete game. ... Martinez singled in the eighth to snap an 0-for-15 slump. ... There was a moment of silence at 3 p.m. for Memorial Day.


Baseball Scoreboard

Oakland Clubhouse

NY Yankees Clubhouse

Ratto: Randy Velarde, please take a bow

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 A lot of hard work has helped Andy Pettitte get back on track.
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