Yankees halfway to record title

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The Independent Online

The team of the century got the cheers. The franchise of the century got the win.

The team of the century got the cheers. The franchise of the century got the win.

The New York Yankees stormed halfway to their record 25th World Series title, humbling the clumsy Atlanta Braves 7-2 on Sunday night behind David Cone for a 2-0 lead.

A night after they waited for an eighth-inning rally to win 4-1, the defending champions wasted no time pounding Kevin Millwood in their 10th straight World Series victory.

"This year in the postseason, I guess we're picking up where we left off last year," outfielder Bernie Williams said.

Cone exactly duplicated the one-hit, seven-inning pitching of Orlando Hernandez in the opener, and Atlanta finished with five hits, three in the ninth inning.

"I just think we have a 'don't-give-in' type of attitude," Cone said. "This series is far from over."

The sellout crowd of 51,226 was still buzzing at the sight of Pete Rose, Ted Williams and Hank Aaron on the field together - along with Yogi Berra in a Yankees hat and Roger Clemens in a blue pinstriped suit - as baseball's All-Century team was announced in a 30-minute tribute.

Then, the Yankees went to work.

Chuck Knoblauch, Derek Jeter and Paul O'Neill started the game with singles, and Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius delivered RBI singles with two outs. Ricky Ledee's double chased Millwood in the third, and it was 7-0 by the fifth.

"We played a real bad game," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said.

Now, the Braves' best hope is a repeat of the 1996 Series, when New York lost the first two games at Yankee Stadium to Atlanta before taking the next four.

Still, here's a key statistic: Of the 45 teams to take a 2-0 edge in the Series, 34 have gone on to win. And another: The Yankees have won an incredible 16 of their last 17 postseason games.

"We are aware of what happened in '96 and when we came back against them," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I don't have to say anything to my team in regard to '96."

Game 3 will be Tuesday night in New York with Tom Glavine, scratched from his Game 1 start because of the flu, expected to pitch for the Braves against Andy Pettitte. If Glavine can't go, John Smoltz will start.

Cox got no benefit from a major lineup switch in which he benched NL Championship Series MVP Eddie Perez, Bret Boone and Walt Weiss.

Backups Greg Myers, Keith Lockhart and Ozzie Guillen did not help Atlanta win. Myers singled in the fifth for the Braves' first hit and drove in the first run with a single off reliever Ramiro Mendoza in the ninth. Boone followed with a pinch-hit double off Jeff Nelson.

"It's frustrating," Cox said. "We kept waiting to get something going."

Meanwhile, Guillen and Lockhart had a lot of trouble up the middle, dropping balls and throwing them away in an all-around sloppy defensive effort by the Braves.

Booed for missing Cone's soft liner, Guillen gave the Turner Field crowd a disdainful look after it gave him a mock cheer for catching a later popup.

Williams had three of the Yankees' 14 hits as they won their seventh straight Series road game and improved to 7-0 overall at Atlanta. By the end, chants of "Let's go, Yankees" began to get louder as New York moved toward its third title in four years.

The Braves have lost six straight in the Series, all to New York. Cox managed his 100th postseason game, falling to 55-45 with Atlanta and Toronto.

Cone, who last started 10 days ago, made a throwing error on Guillen's drag bunt in the first but breezed after that escape. He walked five and struck out four in raising his career postseason record to 8-3.

For Atlanta fans, the top highlights probably came before the first pitch when the sport's All-Century team was announced.

Rose made his first appearance on a major league field since being banished from baseball in 1989 and got the biggest ovation of the evening. Aaron, Willie Mays and Ken Griffey Jr. helped the 81-year-old Williams onto the podium in the middle of the diamond for the half-hour presentation.

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